Miami's coach Coles back after 4 operations Print
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Thursday, 16 October 2008 08:07
NCAAB Headline News


 OXFORD, Ohio (AP) -Charlie Coles is having a good day.
The 66-year-old coach has finished the final class in his nine-week, Basketball Theory 336 course, sharing insights about the game he loves with 28 Miami University students. He's taught the course for 13 years on the southwest Ohio campus.
Afterward, he'll stop home and see his wife, Delores. Today is their 44th wedding anniversary.
``I don't know how happy it is for her, but it's a real happy day for me,'' Coles joked on Tuesday, his distinctive pencil-thin mustache stretching into a straight line as he smiled.
Then it's on to a meeting about the basketball team, which begins practice this weekend. The RedHawks return four starting players and have high expectations heading into Coles' 13th season as head coach.
He'll appreciate this one. A few months ago, Coles feared he was finished.
And not just with coaching.
imself to a hospital, where doctors started the first of many tests. A few hours later, he was in a medical helicopter headed for a bigger hospital.
The odyssey had begun.
Coles had four operations over the next few months as one problem led to another. Doctors shocked his heart to get it back into rhythm, replaced the blood vessels around it in a quadruple bypass, fixed a bleeding ulcer in his stomach and removed his gall bladder.
He wasn't sure how he would come through it. For weeks on end, the best part of his day was when it ended.
``The only thing I looked forward to was when I went to sleep,'' Coles said, sitting by an oblong, wooden table in his basketball office at Millett Hall. ``I looked forward to that because I didn't have to worry about my health. I don't care how old you are, when you get sick, you worry about what's going to happen. And I certainly was worrying about what's going to happen.''
Basketball? His lifelong passion was the last thing in mind.
``And that's the first time that's ever happened in my life,'' Coles said. ``But for a while, it was. I felt like: Uh-oh, this was it. And I wasn't ready for it to be it. I just wasn't ready. Maybe at the end of this year I'll be ready, but not last year.''
It wasn't the first time his career was in doubt because of heart problems.
n he had his first heart bypass surgery. He was coaching at Miami in March 1998 when his heart developed an erratic beat during the Mid-American Conference tournament, putting him in cardiac arrest.
Those episodes taught him to appreciate life. He isn't consumed by the game. He goes trick-or-treating with his grandchildren every year - yes, he sometimes wears a mask. He makes time for family and watches his health.
Still, the heart problems came back with seven games left in the season. The RedHawks reached the semifinals of the MAC tournament without him.
``I was kind of fighting my own battle because I didn't know what was going to happen,'' Coles said. ``My heart was just in bad shape, so they didn't quite know what to do. Did I need a heart transplant? What did I need? It took them about a week (of testing). They came back and were optimistic. They came back with a plan, and the plan was a very difficult plan.''
But it worked.
Coles temporarily lost his appetite and about 30 pounds off his normal weight of 194. He's back up to 180 pounds, where he plans to stay.
He's got a new set of scars - he pulls up the red sleeve on his Miami basketball shirt to show one running the length of his left forearm, where doctors removed blood vessels for the latest bypass. He's got another running along the inside of his left thigh, where doctors removed blood vessels for his first bypass.
showed you my chest, you'd be like, 'Oh, no!''' he said. ``I've got all kind of scars on my chest. When I want to get tough, I just take my shirt off and look in the mirror and pretend I'm tough.''
Then the joking mood turns serious.
``I had a person tell one of my friends, 'Charlie Coles is really a tough guy.' I was joking with my friend. I said 'I'm not tough at all,''' Coles said softly. ``I was so scared. Now I'll pretend I'm tough, but I'm not a tough guy at all. I'm a very easily frightened guy.
``But I'm just happy to be breathing in and breathing out. I'm very happy about that.''
 

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