Biggest Heart: The Chuck Ahsmann Story

Crystal Lake, IL- Cancer is always horrible. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Unfortunately, every family knows or has someone with a type of cancer. Chuck Ahsmann, head coach of football and Physics teacher at Crystal Lake South High School, has a story to tell on how he and his family persevered and prospered after his diagnosis when he was only thirty years young. is bringing Coach’s story to you through contrasting mediums: audio, images and written. Sit back and experience Coach A’s journey through adversity with the help of his family and friends…

Coach has two younger brothers, Steve and Chris. They are very close and you can feel the love they have for each other.

“My brother has always had a big heart,” Chris begins. “He loves sports and knew he wanted to stay connected with that. He also liked working with kids and watching them grow physically and mentally, so teaching became his calling. When he played sports in high school, he was not always the best athlete on the field but he always had the biggest heart and determination to do his best.”

Steve tells us, “He never lets cancer get in his way. If you didn’t know he had cancer you would never expect it based on his attitude. He never lets people see him get down about it. Not long ago, I was looking through an older photo album and came across a picture of Chuck back when he first went through treatment so many years ago. I was shocked at how sick he looked, with a very thin head of hair even though it was the flat-top everyone knows him by.”

“As we were growing up, we lived in a great neighborhood where as the changing of the seasons came, we changed sports.” Brother Chris recalled, “In the summer it was baseball, but the real competition came in late summer and through winter playing football. We would get all the neighborhood kids together and divide up teams and played until it got too dark. Since we were only one grade apart, we were always competing against each other…I have a chipped tooth from a Nerf basketball game where I boxed Chuck out and he pushed me into a window handle…That was his competitive desire to win.”

LISTEN to Coach Ahsmann tell his story in his own words:

LISTEN to Dr. Aric Hall, MD give us insights into Coach Ahsmann’s treatment:

On the Coach’s unselfish attitude, Steve tells us, “He worries about others more than himself. On a recent trip to St. Louis to visit Chris, we were discussing his situation and the chance he will need a bone marrow transplant. Chris and I will have the chance of being a match based on genetics. Chuck said he almost hoped we weren’t a match because he wouldn’t want us to feel guilty if the transplant didn’t work.

“I can’t imagine the stress and uncertainty that he lives with on a daily basis. Each time he gets a cold or doesn’t feel well, his thoughts must go to if the cancer is progressing.”

Whether Coach Ahsmann realizes it or not, he is a hero. Not because he has cancer or because he is a head football coach. He is a hero because he faces mortality on a daily basis and still lives his life to the fullest. He’s a good man, yes, a really good man.

This story is dedicated to my mother, Joan Berg, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer 4+ years ago. The Grand Dame is still fighting the good fight. I love you mom! Drewfus T McFirefly