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Skoda's impact on WPBHS still felt

Adam Skoda moved to West Point along with his family August 1, 2016. Skoda did not just bring his family; he also brought his hard work, determination, coaching and teaching skills, passion, and loving spirit. This allowed him to have a great impact on West Point.

High school principal D.J. Weddle stated, “He was a giant of a man, but he had a teddy bear heart.”

Skoda died too soon from neuroendocrine cancer which in his case affected his pancreas and liver. The reason this cancer had such an effect on him was that it was fast growing; in fact, the doctors could see the cancer cells multiplying on the blood/tissue slides.

During his fight with cancer, he received much love and support from his family and the community. The town stepped up and brought him meals while others offered to watch his children. Normally, his wife, Leigh Skoda, went with him to his treatments; however, when it all became too difficult for the girls, other good friends like football coach Troy Schlueter provided temporary relief by stepping in.

Having made an impact everywhere, Skoda also received help during his illness from the Nebraska Greats Foundation because he lettered in football at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. They gifted him a grant of $10,000 to help with treatment payments.

Also, different WPBHS organizations raised money to donate to Skoda and his family.

Despite his illness, Skoda continued to work at the school because he had a true passion for the students and their futures. Even though he was on long-term disability, he worked as much as he could, teaching physical science. Everyone complimented his teaching skills and his ability to maintain student interest and effort.

He had a special connection with the football team, as superintendent and coach Bill McAllister emphasized, “He was intense and loved the game, but his passion for the kids exceeded his passion for the game.”

Skoda made the boys see the bigger picture; football was just a means to grow and become the people they wanted to be. Senior football player Blake Anderson said, “He was always the first coach to get on you to do better, but he also was the first one to congratulate you when you did something well.”

His death took a toll on everyone who knew him. His family has been attending counseling sessions. The girls are living as their father would want them to by being involved and trying the best they can in everything they do both athletically and academically. His wife has continued to deal with the loss, but most importantly, she does not want him to be forgotten.

Showing concern for his belongings, he wanted his five national championship rings to go to his wife, three daughters, and son. Looking out for his family, he tried to sell some of his possessions, but they were so important that his family could not let them go. He also made plans to be buried in West Point because he loved it here.

While Skoda was taking treatments, he received a care package with comforting items such as a blanket, slippers, and a variety of other items. Leigh loved this idea and wanted to do something similar in memory of Skoda. So Leigh, along with her MOPS-Moms of Preschoolers- group, are doing something similar and calling it Adam’s Army.

Even in death, Skoda still betters the West Point-Beemer family.

He created the Mr. Cadet Award for outstanding young men on and off the field inspiring students to reach their full potential. “He was one of those guys that genuinely cares about people. He wasn’t worried if you were the best or worst player on the team. He just wanted to be a positive influence,” said Schlueter.

He added, “He wanted to treat his students and players as his own kids.”

The 2017-2018 season was dedicated to Skoda. The football team worked harder, ran faster, and lifted stronger for him. They wanted to make him proud which fueled their desire to make it to the state playoffs again.

After Skoda’s death, “The Dragonfly Story” became an important parallel to their lives; in fact, it became so meaningful to Leigh that she decided to commemorate her late husband with a dragonfly tattoo. In short, this story encompasses the idea that something better is waiting for everyone, and suffering does not last. Skoda, like the dragonfly, is free from pain and knows that his family is reassured that everything is well.

After everything Skoda has gone through, for Leigh, it is crucial that everyone understands how precious life really is; and people are what is truly important, not things. She said, “Everyone should always be kind to each person he meets for one does not know what others are going through and what hardships they face.”

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