The sun was beating down on the sweating people gathered on the Coral Gables High athletic field Thursday morning.
Nobody seemed to mind.
That’s because they were there to dedicate the assorted playing fields (football, soccer, baseball, softball, track and field) to Harold Cole. Not just one of the fields, all of them.
Cole, 65, was all smiles during the ceremony. Makes sense. He was thankful to just be there and alive.
In January of 2012, Cole was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma with only 38 cases ever recorded. A maximum of 18 months to live was the prognosis. However, doctors offered him an experimental treatment that included massive chemotherapy.
The chemotherapy, not the cancer, is what usually kills the patient, and nobody had ever made it through the entire treatment. Cole did make it through, overcoming double pneumonia, septic shock, shingles, a coma and various other setbacks. And there he stood Thursday cancer-free with the elite of the Coral Gables community and the high school athletic family looking on with smiles and sweat. Even the Coral Gables cheerleaders and band showed up.
Almost strangely, his illness and courageous battle were hardly mentioned as people wanted to talk about what he had passed on to children and his colleagues in more than 40 years at Coral Gables High, where he was a student, athlete, teacher, coach and athletic director.
“At some point I decided I didn’t want to be a tax accountant,” Cole said. “I was so fortunate to be here at Gables High. Yes, this was my life and I’m so happy about that.”
He cited the people, too many to list, who helped him through his illness. They included boyhood friends Joel Furnari and Tito Gomez. “We grew up together and played ball together,” Cole recalled. “They were and are brothers to me.”
Also, there was what Cole called the “miraculous” support from special friend and companion Bevy Yuz.
There were many, many more people he mentioned. Why so many? Simple answer: because he had developed so many strong friendships over the years.
However, Cole didn’t get away without some razzing. His older brother Barry, as older brothers are wont to do, got a jab in, saying, “Harold fashioned himself to be a power-hitting first baseman. And you know what, he actually did get the ball out of the infield occasionally.”
As for Harold Cole, he summed up the day by saying, “This honor is phenomenal. But having these people here bestowing it on me means even more. I’m so fortunate and blessed by this honor, but more so by those people who have surrounded me for so long.”
BOYS’ SOCCERRansom Everglades 2, Mater Lakes 1:
GIRLS’ SOCCERCarrolton 13, Archbishop Carroll 0: American 4, Jackson 1: TERRA 9, Hialeah-Miami Lakes 0: Miami Country Day 8, SLAM 0: Mater Academy 6, Barbara Goleman 0: Dade Christian 1, South Florida Heat 0: Westminster Christian 8, Keys Gate 0: Posnack 8, Hebrew Academy 0: Gulliver 0, Lourdes 0: St. Brendan 5, Florida Christian 0: Archimedean 8, Westwood Christian 0: Gulliver 8, Archbishop Coleman Carroll 0: Gulliver 0, Lourdes Academy 0. Late Wednesday – Miami Beach 8, Miami 0: Late Wednesday – American 4, Hollywood Hills 0:
GIRLS’ BASKETBALLPalmer Trinity 58, Ransom Everglades 29: PT: South Miami 80 d. Hialeah 29. South Miami 79 d. Northwestern 43. Late Wednesday – Palmer Trinity 60, Keys Gate Charter 9: PT: Late Wednesday – Coral Park d. Palmetto 48-14: Late Wednesday – St. Brendan d. LaSalle 34-28:
Columbus at North Miami, 7:30
South Dade vs. Southwest (Tropical), 7:30
Belen Jesuit vs. Killian (Harris), 7:30
Miami Springs at St. Thomas, 7:30
Plantation vs. American (Milander), 7:30
Carol City at Dillard, 7:30
Boynton Beach vs. Miami Central (Traz), 7:30
Gulliver vs. University School (Nova), 7:30
Pahokee vs. Westminster Chr. (WC), 3:00
Village Academy vs. Champagnat (Ansin Sports Complex), 7:30
Dade Christian vs. Glades Day, 7:30