Wartes' Cancer Fight Inspires Team

May 17th, 2017 - One Abilene middle school teacher has been fighting for her life both in the classroom and on the tennis courts. 

Mann Middle School tennis coach Sharon Wartes has been a staple in classrooms and tennis courts in the Abilene Independent School district for almost two decades. The second diagnosis of cancer is forcing her to take a step back. 

For the last 19 years, Sharon Wartes has coached 7th and 8th grade tennis. April 11th was her final match as the head coach of the Falcons.

"It's exciting to see them be able to compete for the city championship in this last match," Sharon Wartes said. "But it's bittersweet to me too because it's my last match to coach." 

"I think it's going to be tough for her, and for us too, just in general," Kaitlyn Strain said. "But it's going to be tough for her also since it's her last one." 

The final match came, and just like the hundreds that had come before, Wartes encouraged her kids on all of the courts. The Mann Falcons were defeated by the Madison Bison in the city championship, and just like that, Wartes' career as a middle school tennis coach was over.

"It's just been a great career. I'm sad, I really am sad, because it's just, it's just been a wonderful thing. AISD is a wonderful place to work, they've encouraged me and they've given me the opportunity to touch kids lives and that's what I've wanted to do all along," Wartes said.

For most people, tennis is just a sport. For some, it's their livelihood. But for Sharon Wartes, coaching tennis has been so much more than a job. Her kids have been a distraction from her battle with colon cancer. 

Mary Margaret Johnson asked, "Have you leaned on your kids at all during this time that you've been going through all this?"

Wartes said, "Oh my gosh yes. They have been awesome, of course they've given me a reason to get up and come every day, you know to be a part of something."

"Sometimes she has a different mood, like it's not always happy sometimes, but she tries her best not to be tired," Dominic Conner said. 

Strain said, "We know she's having a hard time, we just want to be there for her."

"We need her. We can't just have a lot of subs because she teaches us everything," Rolando Rivera said.

Wartes said, "I love just being able to show them that sometimes things are different, sometimes you have to cross obstacles in your life, but, you know what, if you get up and you keep going, a lot of times you can move past it. You know, everyday is a good day. Some days are just better than others. You kind of live for those better than other days, but you have to trudge right through the other days."

While her battle takes her away from Mann, it doesn't take her away from all kids. Wartes will start working for AISD as a mentor to teachers and coaches all around the district.

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