A Coach's Legacy Lives On - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

A Coach's Legacy Lives On

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By Alex Schuman



Woodward-Granger's team colors are not pink.  Their girls basketball team wore different uniforms Friday because of jersey #34 - Julia Evans. 

For her senior project, Julia wanted to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  She was inspired by many people she knew, but mostly, her softball coach Phil Creese.  He was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011. 

"Lots of planning, lots of setting up, lots of little details you don't think of," Evans describes of planning the "Pink Out" event.

She set up a free at-will donation dinner, auction and organized for everyone to wear pink at the girl's basketball game.

Then, one week before Julia's fundraiser, Coach Creese was at home and asked for help from his daughters. 

"And they helped him to his feet.  He kinda took a walk around the living room and he said, 'I'll be all right,'" said Phil Creese Jr., the coach's son.  "And he laid back down and that's when he passed.  So he fought to the bitter end."

Phil Creese coached those around him to fight for they wanted in life.  He was also known to have a few run-ins of his own with an umpire on occasion. 

But he wanted everyone to have a chance to be their best - even if they didn't know it was him. 

"You know maybe they didn't have a ball glove, or they didn't have shoes.  And all of the sudden there'd be a ball glove sitting on a bench with a girl's name on it.  Or a pair of shoes would be sitting around inconspicuously." said Michael Wessels, from Granger.

Creese hugged people almost as much as he shouted at them.

"But his heart was bigger than his bark," said Wessels.

Which is why his death changed this community, and Julia's senior project.  It changed from about helping Coach Creese to continuing his legacy to fight, and fight for others to make themselves better.

"I feel like I can help other people fight his disease," said Evans.

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