January 3, 2018

Dear Leon tennis family,


Marshal Fisher is ALL IN for the 2018 tennis season. Are you?


I recently offered Marshal the position of assistant head coach of the Leon Lions and he accepted. I have never been more honored and proud in my life.

We will dedicate our season to him.


Quite simply, Marshal, age 17, is the most courageous young man I have ever known. Since May of 2014, he has valiantly battled osteosarcoma, a type of cancer that starts in the bones.

In July of 2014, Marshal had an above the knee amputation on his right leg. During the last three and a half years, he has undergone a myriad of treatments to thwart the disease, but the cancer has remained a stubborn foe.


Today, Jan. 3, Marshal is traveling with his mom, Betsy, to Shands Hospital, where he will undergo further testing to assess the cancer, which now has active growth again in his lung and left leg. More chemotherapy is likely on the horizon and, if it is in his best interest, he may choose to have his left leg amputated as well.


This is a young man with more courage than the rest of the Leon family put together. In the summer of 2016, I rode my bicycle across the United States - from Yorktown, Virginia to San Francisco - thanks to Marshal’s encouragement. Before embarking on the 3,800-mile trek, I was sure to name him my head coach.


Whenever I was up against a daunting series of climbs, I would check in with Marshal for a pep talk. It worked every time.


When he was kind enough to take on the role of being my assistant head coach for the upcoming season, he said, “I don’t want to stress the players out, but we need to be hard on them.”


You can be sure I will follow his orders. In fact, absolutely no form of self-pity or entitlement will be tolerated from any Leon player this season. In keeping with tradition, players will earn their positions on the squad through a grueling three-week tryout process, which includes a double-elimination tournament and ensuing ladder.


But, if at any time, they hang their head and play with anything less than supreme effort and an attitude of gratitude, they will be benched until they figure out how to play the right way for Mr. Marshal Fisher.


You are either ALL IN or not in.


This is not the first time that the Leon program has been blessed to have a Fisher on staff. Marshal’s mom, Betsy, was one of my first assistant coaches and she did a marvelous job as well. Betsy - an amazing teacher, mentor, mother and friend – is currently on a leave of absence from Leon so that she can spend as much time as possible with Marshal, who she adopted just five years ago.


The first 2018 organizational meeting, for players only, will be held in the school cafeteria immediately after school on Jan. 8. All prospects must have a physical and turn in the required forms before they can take the courts on Jan. 22 for the first day of tryouts.


I suggest you come prepared.


Marshal Fisher is ALL IN. Are you?