COLORADO SPRINGS — Every so often, a football player meets a coach whose words touch beyond the lines of the field. For those at Widefield High School, that coach was T.J. Cobb.
“He was always trying to motivate me whenever I was down in football,” freshman offensive lineman Landon Deal said. “He always taught me to never give up and always try my best. He was a role model to me.”
“Very caring, just a great guy, very funny,” senior offensive lineman Nic Reinert said of Coach Cobb. “He was always cracking jokes and he was just a pleasure to be around, someone you can joke with as well as respect.”
After five years as a teacher and coach for the Gladiators, Cobb passed away unexpectedly on February 8.
“Utter shock,” senior Ethan Simon said when he learned of Cobb’s passing. “It was blankness. It was weird. The only emotion I could think about was sadness for his family.”
“It hit me hard,” Reinert said. “It took me a while to realize Coach is really gone.”
Cobb’s legacy, however, will live on through the lessons he shared with those around him.
“Once he told you me ‘you can talk, say anything you want, just keep talking up a storm, just telling everyone how great you are, but at the end of the day, if you don’t show anyone, what are you really doing?’,” Reinert said. “More of that actions speak louder than words, and I’ll just carry that mindset throughout the rest of my life.”
“He always said ‘real men stick their hands in the dirt,’ because I was a lineman too and he always used to say that, and that will probably stick with me forever,” Deal said.
If there is a way to honor the man who did so much for these students, they know exactly how Coach Cobb would want them to honor him.
“I loved him. He was like a father figure outside of my home,” Reinert said. “He made football what it is to me today and that’s honestly one of the biggest joys of my life, so I owe him a lot.”
“His kids were his everything,” Simon said. “I watched him hold his kids while doing drills. That’s the only thing that sticks out to me in my head. He was sticking his hand in the dirt, he was cheering on everybody, he was doing everything, and he just wanted to make everybody proud.”
Cobb was 37 years old. He leaves behind a wife and two young children.