By Tamas Mondovics
Sadly, the Riverview High School softball team had to begin the 2015-2016 Class 8A District 6 season with a tough loss last month, one that cannot be posted on the scoreboard or be remedied by a rematch.
Beloved longtime head coach Angela Slater, who led the Sharks to two state softball titles, lost a year-long battle with an aggressive form of cancer, large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma.
Slater began her softball coaching experience three decades ago, amassing more than 500 victories including the Sharks’ state titles wins in 2000 and 2002.
As the Riverview coach since the school’s opening in 1996, Slater also led the girls to be state runner ups in 2003, ultimately turning the program into a much-respected softball powerhouse.
Slater’s success and obvious talent throughout her coaching experience was assisted by her husband, Ron, who also coaches golf at the school, and who has vowed to continue his wife’s legacy with the help of his son, Cody.
“She loved every minute of coaching the game and everything she did,” Ron said just minutes prior to the Sharks hosting Bloomingdale.
Ron emphasized that while he did not expect or presume to be the girls head coach, he is now carrying out his wife’s wish.
“When she asked me, I did not hesitate,” Ron said, adding, “Angela is with me at each game. She is still the coach. At the start of each game she is announced as the head coach.”
While saddened, the girls are ready to give their best as each game is played with Angela’s presence felt on the field.
As for Ron, keeping busy and continuing his wife’s legacy is the order of each day.
“I am not ready to teach just yet, but I keep coaching the girls as Angela wanted,” Ron said as tears welled up in his eyes. “What else would I do? I mean we were married for 35 years, and I knew her for four years before that. We were more than just married. We were friends. We did everything together. I mean, how do you say goodbye?”
Supported by all present, the Shark’s game against Bloomingdale appropriately began with an emotional tear-filled ceremony, including white balloons released into the night sky, honoring the late coach.
Wiping the tears from his eyes, while taking his position near the dugout, Ron could be heard saying, “It’s tough man. It is just tough.”
For more information about the Riverview Sharks softball team, visit www.maxpreps.com.