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Coach Fights Cancer, Inspires Team

Posted February 22, 2008
Updated February 23, 2008

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— A Beaufort County assistant high school basketball coach is proving to be an inspiration to his team.

Last fall, assistant coach Jeff Tubaugh of Terra Ceia Christian Academy in Pantego found out he had skin cancer, but he hasn't let that stop him from teaching his Lady Knights. His girls played Friday in the Independent Schools Final Four at Cary Academy.

“When we look at him on the sidelines, he's up and ready and into the game. It's like we've got to pull this out for him. If he can battle for his life, we can battle for this game,” player Lauren Ashley said.

Tubaugh beat cancer once before, and when the disease returned, it was Stage 4 melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer.

“I'm not going to waste time worrying about what might happen. I want to live every day the best I can and try to make a contribution to everybody who has merit in my life,” Tubaugh said.

Through it all, including once-a-week chemotherapy, Tubaugh has remained dedicated to this team. He has not missed a game or a practice.

In fact, he had cancer surgery on a Friday and was back at practice four days later.

“If I get tired on the court, I just keep pushing myself because he's doing so much to battle cancer,” player Siena Ward said.

“They rallied around him. They love him dearly,” coach Rod Cantrell said.

“He's full of love. He cares not just about basketball, but he cares about us as people,” player Jessica Vanderweit said.

“These kids have stuck behind me. They have prayed for me. They've inspired me and I'm real proud of all of them. They've helped me a lot more than I've helped them,” Tubaugh said.

Sports can still be tough, of course. The Lady Knights lost their semi-final game Friday night 59-50 to the Ridgecroft School in Ahoskie. This year, however, they were in the Final Four. Last year, it was the Final Eight. They are learning about playing tough.

With the season over, Tubaugh said he plans to stay busy – including training for two upcoming triathlons. He also plans to travel to Washington state in June to climb Mount Adams with his wife and two children.

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