Coach Bemis had the heart of the champion. In our hearts and minds, he has already amassed three Vince Lombardi trophies and a spot in the football Hall of Fame. It is up to us to take his life lessons forward as we grow old, be it together or apart.
Coach Bemis was best known for developing leaders and believers on the field and in the classroom. As a native to Arizona, Scot had the pleasure of learning from some of the state’s greatest football legends – including Karl Kiefer and Pat Farrell. His ability to motivate and inspire students and players was contagious making his slogan “GET AFTER IT!” – everybody’s mantra.
These qualities helped build the NDP Saints Football and Women’s Soccer programs, which earned the school multiple state championships.
Things changed drastically in September 2011, when Scot discovered a large tumor in his elbow. A few weeks and several tests later, Scot, a non-smoker, was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. After a fierce battle, he passed away 4 months later.
Throughout the course of his illness, he was blessed by the loving care of the community and their countless acts of kindness. His family, determined to pay it forward, and bless others in the same way, established the Scot A. Bemis Fund through the Catholic Community Foundation. Its mission is to further Scot’s legacy by supporting the search for a cure for lung cancer and providing scholarships to deserving students.
-Kyle Odegard, East Valley Tribune
Scott Bordow, The Arizona Republic
-Kyle Odegard, East Valley Tribune
-Tyler "Dazz" Daswick
-The Catholic Sun
Nine years ago we learned that you had cancer. Metastatic cancer that had spread throughout your body. IT MUST BE A MISTAKE. How does that EVEN happen? Perhaps the doctors mixed up the test results? Where did it come from? How could you, a big strong guy, an athlete, a non-smoker, have cancer? How long had it been there? Why, if it was cancer, did your tumor respond to advil? FOR GOODNESS SAKE, YOU JUST WALKED IN THE DOOR FROM PRACTICE. YESTERDAY, YOU WERE SWIMMING WITH YOUR KIDS!
After numerous doctor appointments and working through the ins and outs of insurance, including making a visit to the CEO of BCBS to get your approvals taken care of, we learned you had Stage IV lung cancer.
I listened to your wife crying in the car and immediately received calls from mom, dad, your children and other family members. “Whatever you do, don’t tell them everything’s going to be fine. I don’t want them to grow up with a false sense of trust. Tell them I have really good doctor’s, they are doing their best to help me, AND remind them that I am a fighter.” Building trust was always important to you.
On the drive home from the oncologist appointment you were calm. Later that day, I remember walking in and finding you listening to John Lennon’s Let It Be. "When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me…" Oddly, your sense of peace and willingness to “Let it Be” gave us peace.
FOUR MONTHS LATER, WE WATCHED YOU INHALE, THEN EXHALE YOUR LAST BREATH AND RELEASE YOUR SOUL TO HEAVEN. It was the saddest moment of our lives. It’s taken me years to understand what happened that day. Now I see it as part of life, a message and a responsibility.
You had just turned 45 years old. I remember thinking, “How can this be you and not me…how can a father of 4, be fine one day and gone the next? How? Why?” I kept asking you what the cancer felt like and wanted to understand your pain. You simply said, “It’s like nothing you could ever imagine.” I wished I could have carried it for you.
In the days before you died, you still reflected strength. You reminded us that strength really does carry us through. You echoed mom’s message, “One day at a time.” We remind each other of this important message.
You also demonstrated an unwavering faith. You knew things would be okay. I wondered if I were in your shoes if I would have that kind of faith.
The day before your funeral, I went to the football field. I kept asking you and God for a sign. Give us a sign. Help us to know that you were okay. Just one sign. Please. That’s all we need. A few minutes later, l looked up to the sky, a crystal blue sky (no clouds) and there it was, your sign (not surprisingly, it was artistic). A single CROSS in the sky. From then on, we knew you were okay. God’s got you!
Because YOU made us all laugh a lot, when we think back on our time with you, we laugh a lot. We still tell “your” jokes. We tease “your” kids. We prank each other. We remember the rabbit! We found the hole.
Shortly before you died, you hinted you would always be with us. Even when things are at their worst, we sense your presence. Sometimes through a song on the radio -- Cheap Trick (Surrender), Lynyrd Skynyrd (Free Bird), or ACDC (You Shook Me All Night Long). Sometimes we look up and find a cross in the sky. Sometimes your child / grand-child acts like you. Sometimes a whisper telling us that things will be okay and reminding us that life is a privilege. Live it for us. “Get After It” for me!
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