Debbie Marcum's voice wasn't raspy after Colerain defeated Mason 63-14 on Friday night.
The 1972 member of the Colerain pep group that cheered from the stands 41 years ago usually yells "defense" and "let's go Colerain" on Friday night. Uncharacteristically, she was quiet. The seats to her left were unoccupied for one of the few times since, 1968.
Her voice was spared on Friday; her eyes were not.
Debbie's father Bill Marcum wasn't in the seat to her immediate left. That seat will represent a void not only in "the Cage" at Colerain but in the hearts of many in the Colerain community -including this writer.
Bill Marcum, a constant at Colerain football games, punted after 86 years and joined a team at a higher level. Marcum ordered the doctors to withhold dialysis. He knew it was time to let someone else carry the ball.
Marcum was a fighter but more importantly a supporter. He knew the game as well as anyone around. His daughter Debbie can explain the reads in Colerain's famous option offense. She knows the angles used by Colerain's 50-slant defense. Bill taught her. But Bill never second- guessed the coach. He was always, always on the field after the game with a pat on the back of the coach, win or lose. He never left early in a blowout game, when the weather was bitter cold, rainy or under a heavy snow.
Marcum joined the Navy just prior to graduating from now-defunct Hartwell High. The 16-year old fought for our country starting in 1944 and returned to get his GED and raise a family.
His eldest son Greg went to high school in Indiana.
His second son Doug inherited his father's competitive spirit and his track speed. The family moved back to Cincinnati and Doug was a talented wide receiver and defensive back from 1968 to 1970.
Bill watched his son, 6'1" about 175 pounds, hit running backs and receivers on the same field that Debbie stared at blankly at on Friday.
Doug had scholarship offers from his hard-nosed play and his exceptional athleticism, but an knee injury late in his senior year kept him from moving on.
Bill never moved on. He came to nearly every Colerain game for the next 42 years, often with Debbie, Greg and Doug, who at 60 can still wear his letterman jacket like he did when he was 17.
He watched Kerry Combs, the legendary Colerain coach now on the staff at Ohio State, chase down running backs at Colerain. He watched current coach Tom Bolden, alias Top Gun, set passing records at Colerain. Bill saw lean years and was there every game.
When I returned on a regular basis when my nephews played on Colerain's emerging teams of the early '90's, Bill recognized me, one of the less significant players in Colerain's history.
We greeted each other every week during the football season. He was in Canton for Colerain's state championship win over Canton McKinley in 2004.
Bill never second-guessed the coach after a rare tough loss. He was still on the field to pat Combs or Bolden on the back. He was there to shake players' hands after wins and after losses.
Finally, Monday, Bill Marcum had enough.
"So be it," Marcum told his sons and daughter. "I'm not taking any more dialysis."
Tom Bolden and the Colerain Cardinals have dedicated the rest of the season to Bill Marcum.
I will dedicate my life to being a loyal fan just like him.
Rest well, by friend.
|Professionally edited by ML Schirmer|
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