GEORGETOWN — When describing the qualities athletes need to become great football players, there are many varying opinions, but the reflections of two great coaching minds could very much depict one special Georgetown Royal junior.
Six-time national champion-winning Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once simply said of what he looks for in players: “There’s no substitute for guts.”
Another legendary coach, Lou Holtz, who helped Notre Dame win its last national title in 1988, was also quoted as saying, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.”
Georgetown’s Tommy Coye embodies everything those two football men stated — character, determination, work ethic and a never-say-die mentality.
Ironically, Coye’s battle with his guts, or more specifically with his colon and the ulcerative colitis (UC) condition he was diagnosed with at age 4, is what makes his story so poignant.
Coye’s UC diagnosis — which causes ulcers in the colon — could not be treated with the usual medications gastroenterologists would typically prescribe because his body reacted adversely to nearly all those medications, especially Advil.
After four years of trying varying gastrointestinal medicines, his parents determined that a strict diet avoiding wheat and gluten-based products seemed to put the UC into remission.
However, in early September of 2011, Coye complained of an earache and feeling sick at practice, and was sent home. What his coaches and parents thought was simply a bug turned into a four-month ordeal of lengthy hospital stays, dreadful bouts of pain and a life-altering surgery.
Coye was initially diagnosed with a double-ear infection and allowed to return home, but after a week of diarrhea and vomiting, he returned to the doctors, who sent him to Beverly Hospital.
From there, he was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis, and because it caused a major flare-up with the UC, he was sent after one night by ambulance to Children’s Hospital in Boston, where he was soon admitted to the Intense-Care Unit because of the seriousness of the situation.