Mansfield football -- a playoff staple; a college talent factory.
And home to head coach Daniel Maberry -- who excels off the field, as well.
"He's been behind us through everything, and he's been such a great coach. And not only a coach but a mentor," said junior guard Layton Ernst.
"My parents had recently gotten divorced," junior defensive back Miles Williams said. "He took me in the office and he helped me with it... he's just that type of coach, it's not just football with him."
But as the Tigers last season was winding to a close, Coach Maberry was feeling fatigued. His legs were burning, and he felt out of shape.
He convinced himself he just needed to get back in the gym, after the season ending.
"But then, I flew to NC for a coaches convention, and when I got back, my face was white as a ghost," Mayberry explained. "And everybody around me told me, you have to go."
The diagnosis? Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
The first thing he did was go pick up his nine and six-year old girls from school.
"I tried to be joyful when I saw them," he said. "But when we got home, we told them. I don't know that they know the full extent of everything. I think my youngest thinks I'm just gonna lose my hair."
Joy has been hard to find for Maberry -- but it's been a constant focus for him, ever since his diagnosis.
"I mean, I might not be around to see my little girls go on their first date, or get married, or all those things. You think about those things. And then you think about -- one of the first things I did was I apologized to my wife, because I didn't want to let her down," Mayberry said, fighting back tears.
"So, it's hard to find joy when you're thinking about those things, but at the same time, I do know there's a plan for this. I do know God has a purpose for this. I don't know what the plan is. I might not be the most excited person about that plan. But I do have faith that there is a plan for this."
The entire community, his players included, have rallied around Coach Maberry.
"We've got these wristbands on that say Mayberry strong. Just everything goes to him," Williams said. "Because he's done so much for this program, and now we work that much harder, just because."
But there's no question -- it's Maberry's attitude that leads the way for everyone else.
"You don't ever expect it to happen to you," Mayberry said. "But you know, I mean, I've really seen God at work in my life. It's been a blessing in a weird way. Believe it or not. It doesn't make it any easier, from that standpoint, but I have felt the presence of God during this time period. It's really been cool, if that makes any sense whatsoever. It's been a blessing in a weird way."
A remarkable approach, from a remarkably selfless man. Coach Maberry insisted we not make the goFundMe account set up by his assistant coaches the focus of this piece. And we didn't. But when a community raises 75,000 in less than three weeks -- that says a lot about the man it's for.
The link: https://www.gofundme.com/wearemansfield
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