Community comes together to remember coach who died of cancer

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PHOENIX -- Team Bemis suffered its greatest loss this week. The man hundreds of people rallied around lost his fight with cancer.  A school and community came together Friday to say goodbye to the beloved local coach.

Current and former players from Notre Dame Prep gathered Friday at a Gilbert church to remember Coach Scot Bemis.  Football players with tears in their eye hugged and spoke in whispers.

“Fast Eddie,” said Edward Krolak, who graduated last May.  “I wasn't the fastest guy but he gave me that nickname.  Always brought a smile to my face.”

The young men who made up the football team say Bemis was a father figure, who tried to pass a little knowledge about life, between their plays.

“Never give up,” said Josh Roeckner, a Notre Dame senior.  “Stay strong, no matter what the circumstances.  Keep fighting for what you want.”

Coach Bemis was diagnosed with lung cancer last year and lost that fight Sunday night.  Students, teachers, parents and members of the community left flowers and mementos in front of the school.

“I can honestly say been one of the toughest weeks I've gone through,” said Roeckner.

You see, Coach Bemis won two state championships with his boy's football team, but he won another as the girl’s soccer coach.

“We really try to find people who can reach kids,” said Principal David Gonsalves.  “Not just teach them, and he was a perfect example of that.”

By all accounts, Coach Bemis stood apart as he helped children grow into adults.  At 45 years old, cancer took him too soon, but his legacy is alive in these young people.

“I think he would want us to keep going,” said Roeckner.  “Like he was still there, just keep fighting, still joking around, still playing hard in football and soccer.  I don't think he would want us to act any different.”

Team Bemis is still going strong raising money for the coach's family.  There is another fundraiser Saturday evening after the funeral.

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