It’s going to seem strange on Friday when I walk up the stairs to the press box at McPherson Stadium.
Every game for as long as I can remember in my 38 years of covering sports in McPherson, I would get stopped as I slowly made the arduous climb.
Bob Coy would make sure of that.
Bob would grab my arm and always ask me, “Who’s going to win?” And I would give him my answer, sometimes to his dislike. Then we would proceed to discuss the game and anything else related to McPherson sports.
It hit me like a ton of bricks on Tuesday when I learned of Bob’s passing in Wichita after he suffered a stroke. I had always thought of him as one of those people who would live forever. Ask anyone who knows him and they’ll tell you he was the ultimate McPherson “super fan.”
What makes it so difficult is that I just talked with Bob on Friday and he was beyond excited about the playoff game with Andale. I didn’t talk with him after the game, but I’m sure he would have said that it was one of the most exciting games he had witnessed as Drew Labertew kicked a game-winning field goal with 13 seconds left in the game.
Bob and I were born in the same town of Independence. He loved to talk with me about Southeast Kansas and his time there.
My relationship with Bob didn’t get off to the best of starts though. I can’t remember the first time I met him, but the first several conversations were always the same. It was during my days as sports editor of The Sentinel and he would come into the office breathing fire.
“I gotta bone to pick with you,” would be Bob’s stock opening line. “I didn’t like what you wrote last night. How can you write that stuff?”
I’ll be honest, when I would see Bob come in during those days I would decide that I needed a trip to the water cooler in the back. But he would wait it out so he could “pick his bone.”
One day I finally summoned the courage and decided to just have it out with him. After he gave me my usual blasting, I said something to the effect “well Bob, if you don’t like what I write, just don’t read it.”
I can remember his reaction to this day. I think he was impressed that I stood my ground. From then on, we became “best buds.”
Bob would always be the first person at the football games. He would come out before the gates would open and sometimes badger the ticket takers to let him in early. I would spend at least 10 minutes talking with Bob before each game.
He also would be the first one at the home basketball games. It didn’t matter if it was freshmen, JVs or varsity, he would take them all in. He used to go to all the road games, but in recent years as he got older he would just listen to them on the radio, of course telling me if there was something he didn’t like that I said since I do color commentary.
When I first started my Mid Kansas Sports Magazine, Bob would tell me to make sure as soon as they were hot off the press to get him a copy. He would immediately pour through it.
While Bob could be quite vociferous about officials no matter the sport, he always had the kids’ best interests at heart. I already saw a Facebook post from former Kansas Player of the Year and Bullpup great Katelyn Loecker about Bob’s passing, accompanied with a photo of the two.
“So so sad to hear the passing of one of my favorite McPherson fans... after every game in high school I was greeted by Bob with open arms and a kiss on the cheek. He was always so supportive of me and all McPherson athletes. I know you'll still be cheering up in heaven.”
I think a lot of Bullpup athletes probably feel the same way. Bob cheered all of them on and he reveled in MHS’ state championships as much as the kids. In a way, I think he felt like he was part of the team.
Bob was a longtime employee of CertainTeed and after his retirement he worked carry-out at Dillons just to keep busy and be part of the community. He talked with every customer and anybody who is a regular at the store knew him.
When I walk up the stairs Friday for McPherson’s playoff game with Maize South, I’m going to stop for a moment where Bob used to sit. Just call it my own personal moment of silence and tribute to the “Super Fan.”
RIP Bob and I’ll see you soon. Cheer those Bullpups on from above.