SACRAMENTO -- A California high school football coach went in for a routine medical procedure and nearly died.
Life is a lot different these days for 49-year-old Casey Cagle. “I walked into that hospital at 6-foot-5-and-a-half, you know, 261 pounds. I came out at 4-foot-6 and 191 pounds. You realize at that point how fast things can change.”
“I'm vulnerable for the first time in my life,” the Bradshaw Christian assistant football coach told KTXL. “I walked into that hospital at 6-foot-5-and-a-half, you know, 261 pounds. I came out at 4-foot-6 and 191 pounds. You realize at that point how fast things can change.”
That was this past May when Cagle went in for a four-hour procedure on his heart. But complications almost cost him his life. “For the boys, dealing with losing a coach would be difficult,” said Bradshaw Christian Athletic Director Kurt Takahashi. “So, we all braced ourselves for it and then it comes out as a miracle.”
“It was really like shadowy gray around,” said running back Jeremiah Bonner. “Nobody really had the energy to go practice. It made things a little harder.”
Coach Cagle ended up spending close to 100 days in the hospital. During that time, doctors were forced to amputate both of Cagle's legs, his left hand and several fingers.
But he never lost his sense of humor or his positive outlook on life. “You realize one digit can do a lot for you,” Cagle said holding up his pinky. “Every time we score now, the kids put a pinky up. Whoever scored run over and I get my hug out of it.”
Cagle said he has received endless support from his family, his team and the entire Bradshaw Christian community. “Those are the kinds of things -- the support from your family and the people you know in the community -- that's what really makes you go forward and want to live,” he told KTXL.
“He cooks, he does laundry, he cleans his house,” said Cagle’s brother, Michael. “I mean, he really enjoys being independent. If anything, we are through the hard part now and things will continue to get better as we go.”
The assistant coach returned part-time to the program just last month. “You can sum it up in one word - adversity. It's what we try to teach these kids in school, in life, in general,” Takahashi said.
“You realize you've got to be the same person you were. I can't bring them down and I can't bring myself down or else it's going to be a long life,” Cagle explained. “I'd rather go about this the way I used to. It makes me feel like I am still the person I used to be.”
Coach Cagle already has big plans for next year. He’s hoping he will get prosthetic legs come January and then he'll be right back at Bradshaw Christian School coaching the defensive line come the summer.