A man who has helped to shape the lives of many Ohio Valley men in his life, teaching others how to be a tough opponent on and off the field, a lesson he would live out as he battled ALS.
Former players and friends of Mark Nardone reflect on what he meant to them, “It was more about the players than the game. Coach always went about and beyond for his players and make extra phone calls to make things happen after the game,” said former player and friend, Erick Brothers.
In the 21-years he spent as a football coach for Wheeling Park High School, Mark Nardone made an everlasting impact on hundreds of young men, “Was very fiery and enthusiastic and all the players, we always loved him and that’s how he taught me how to coach, once I grew up to be a coach,” said former player and friend, Daryl ‘Boogie’ Johnson.
Teaching high school boys lessons that would go far beyond the football field. Lessons they would carry into their adulthood, but perhaps the biggest lesson he could teach anyone is to never give up, “Every day is a new day, every day I wake up and just spend time with (points to family),” Nardone said in a 7News interview in February.
“He’s a great family man. He fought for his kids, he fought for everyone,” Johnson added. Nardone put up a big fight for more than a year against ALS. He has plaques and trophies galore, but his most rewarding accomplishment in life was being a loving and dedicated husband and father.
His former players cherish the legacy that is now left behind by their beloved coach and friend, “He loved us players like his own. We spent six or eight months together training, giving it our all on that field and he loved every one of us like we were his own,” Brothers said.
On Christmas day, a time when most of us gather with our family and friends and cherish the many things we have to be thankful for, Nardone passed away. His son Nick took to Twitter calling his passing “the only gift I had asked for”. The tweet read in part “My Dad passed away this morning on Christmas Day, he is finally done battling and being miserable.”
Mark Nardone was 54-years-old
According to a Facebook post by Nardones‘ daughter Eleni, instead of a funeral the family has decided to do a celebration of life on January 2, 2017 at 11AM at the J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center at Wheeling Park High School.
The family invites anyone who wishes to hear or share their stories about Mark.