Coaching to live: Poolesville wrestling Coach Kevin Dorsey grapples with ALS

February 21, 2015 - als

Kevin Dorsey continues to manager Poolesville’s wrestling organisation 6 months after his ALS diagnosis. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The cover of genocide does not follow Kevin Dorsey here. Not in a cafeteria during Poolesville High, where a Falcons improvise their wrestling room.

The school’s wrestling manager for 9 years and counting strode past a fringe of folded lunch tables, pillars of built desks and a pallet of paper products as he entered a space on a initial Thursday in February. An use bike whirred, bodies crashed to a building and Dorsey, wearing work boots and a dirt-stained jacket, sipped a bottle of honeyed tea as he watched a boys fastener and dance.

Dorsey doesn’t combat anymore. Amyotrophic parallel sclerosis is aggressive his shaken system. Weakness in his hands was a initial symptom.

A neurologist initial diagnosed Dorsey, 47, with ALS in August.

His fingers are still thick from years as a welder and mechanic, once for a U.S. Army and now for Make N Grade, a excavating business he owns with Dawn, his mom of 27 years. Dorsey’s fingerprints are all over Poolesville. His hands have graded, sodded and seeded personification fields, and they’ve shown a organisation of scrappy wrestlers how to pull their bodies over preconceived limitations. Now those hands are unwell him.

But Dorsey doesn’t need his hands for coaching. He needs his voice. That still fills a room. He needs his eyes. Those still authority attention. He needs his teeth,which form a disarming laugh Dawn calls his “rotten small grin.” It’s a small curved since he private his braces with pliers in high school. The wires were slicing his mouth during matches, and he would rather combat though bloody interruptions than worry about true teeth.

At Poolesville’s practice, Dorsey indispensable his neck, as he bearing his conduct inside a limb of a student’s arm and explained a business finish of a entertain nelson.

One day he won’t be means to walk, though as prolonged as Dorsey is breathing, he’ll be coaching.

“They got flattering good wheelchairs,” Dorsey said. “I’ll be doing wheelies adult and down this hall.”

Odds are Dorsey has reduction than 5 years to live. But here during practice, where he can instruct, dominate and attraction all during a same time, he is really most alive.

Kevin Dorsey encourages his charges during a Maryland 2A/1A South segment twin accommodate during Oakland Mills. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

”He’s a hardest-working chairman I’ve ever met. No matter what, he doesn’t let anything move him down,” Poolesville comparison captain Luke Maher pronounced of his coach, Kevin Dorsey. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Falcons had a vicious twin accommodate during Clarksburg in twin days. If they won, they would allege to a informal duals for a seventh year in a row.

Wrestlers ran in a turn as Dorsey stood in a core barking commands.

“I’m still only as shrill and crude as I’ve ever been,” Dorsey said. “I haven’t changed. Most of them still combat since of a approach we am. Pushing them. Pushing them. Pushing them.”

A playground of conditioning drills ensued. The Falcons played leapfrog. They did push-ups. They hopped on one leg. At Poolesville, they call this a fourth and fifth period. Overtime.

By a end, heavyweight Kyle Wilkins was on a building gasping.

“That’s what we wish we to feel, Kyle,” Dorsey said. “That’s what we wish we to feel from here on out. That’s what’s going to get we a win.”

Where other people see problems, Dorsey sees solutions, customarily done of dirt, sod and concrete. According to upholder bar President Jeff Oyer’s estimations, Dorsey has donated during slightest $50,000 in time and labor renovating jaunty comforts on his own.

Dorsey kept a diagnosis to himself for twin weeks while he waited on exam results. The illness that killed Lou Gehrig is formidable to diagnose. According to a ALS Association, as many as 30,000 Americans have a neurodegenerative condition during any given time.

Seeking a second opinion during Johns Hopkins didn’t change anything. Specialists there reliable Dorsey had ALS in October.

The Dorseys gave themselves a month to suffer and make decisions. Kevin chose who would travel daughters Sammi Jo, 22, and Jessi, 17, down a aisle. He taught his son, Cody, 19, how to repair a construction apparatus owned by a family.

Dorsey and Dawn worked on his to-do list. Dorsey doesn’t like a tenure “bucket list.” There was zero extravagant. Dorsey wanted to hunt deer in Pennsylvania and furious pigs in Florida. He authorised himself time off for those trips. He texted his mom “Love you” some-more than he used to.

The hardest partial for Dawn was devising retirement though her husband. They had worked during their marriage, worked to sojourn friends. When Dawn’s mom indispensable a kidney transplant, Dorsey gave her his.

“I’m not ostensible to be alone when I’m 50, and I’m going to be,” Dawn said. “He’s not replaceable.”

Coaching would be Dorsey’s treatment. So would digging basements and grading yards.

“I have fun doing everything. I’ve got a biggest pursuit in a world,” Dorsey said. “Every child played in a sandbox with a lorry or a loader or something. we do it for real.”

He never deliberate changing his routine. Mornings were for relocating mud and concrete. Afternoons were for wrestling.

With a winter sports deteriorate approaching, Dorsey met with Athletic Director Ed Ross, and they motionless to accumulate a boys for a straightforward lunch meeting. Dorsey would not accept any wrestlers dropping out on his account.

“I told them what was going on, told them we was not going anywhere, that they were not going to get that lucky,” Dorsey said.

Senior captain Luke Maher cried when he satisfied a toughest male he’s ever famous was wrestling a compare he couldn’t win. Then he suspicion of what Dorsey would say.

“He doesn’t wish anyone to feel contemptible for him. He’s only so selfless, and that’s only who he is. In a way, I’m blissful I’m a senior, since we don’t know what I’d do though him on a team,” Maher said. “He’s a hardest-working chairman I’ve ever met. No matter what, he doesn’t let anything move him down. He only keeps going.”

There are 9 freshmen in a module this year. Dorsey hopes to see them graduate.

“What am we ostensible to do? Sit during that residence and worry when this is going to happen? It’s going to occur when it happens,” Dorsey said. “Nobody knows when that button’s going to be pushed.”

Poolesville wrestling Coach Kevin Dorsey, center, has built a Falcons organisation into an annual contender. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

During his team’s twin accommodate during Clarksburg, Dorsey didn’t seem generally worried by a boundless finger slow atop his button. These are a moments Dorsey lives for.

The twin accommodate was a seesaw, though Poolesville could bind a win if Wilkins could pin Ben Fiscus. Dawn and Sammi Jo sat in a assembly while Jessi rubbed a scorebook.

While a heavyweight forced his opponent’s shoulders closer to a mat, a Falcons hopped out of their chairs yelling “Squeeze!” The arbitrate slapped a mat. Wilkins rose and shook hands with Dorsey before nod a horde of teammates.

Four days later, Dorsey complacent opposite a wall in a gym during Oakland Mills, a horde of a Maryland 2A/1A South segment tournament. A burst rib he suffered after an icy tumble kept his voice down. He used to container 3 bags of cherry cough drops to each meet. He’d come home smelling like bad medicine.

Dorsey stood on one dilemma of a pad during Oakland Mills, creation eye hit with his struggling wrestlers. He rolled adult his sleeves and felt butterflies in his stomach before each match. Only twin boys won.

Dorsey was speedy by a great that followed. Wrestlers who get dissapoint get better.

“We’ll get them subsequent year,” Dorsey pronounced afterward. “I promise.”

The Falcons’ twin accommodate deteriorate was over, though people can still allege to contest during a state contest in March.

Every year, Dorsey packs a fit and tie in his truck. He promises he’ll dress adult for anyone who creates a championship round.

He’s never had an arise to manager in a suit.

One some-more object for a to-do list.

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