Second-year Missouri Southern football coach John Ware died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack after collapsing at his desk. Ware, 46, was discovered in his office after 10 a.m. Attempts to revive Ware by members of the coaching and training staff, as well as medical personnel, failed and he was rushed to Freeman Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Ware died of an apparent heart attack, the school said in a statement Tuesday night. An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday. “John Ware was a man with a vision, and that vision was beginning to become clear to our community and our campus,” athletic director Sallie Beard said. “It was almost palpable, the impact that he had in just a short period of time.” Assistant coach Keeth Matheny, who will take over as head coach, said Ware had experienced heart problems in the past. “I love John Ware,” Matheny said. “And like all the guys I’m grieving, but I’m also grieving the loss of one of my best friends, if not my best friend. “There are five games remaining — five opportunities — to make a great man proud.” Missouri Southern players had meetings in the morning and afternoon, and were shaken. “To lose a coach to a coaching change hurts,” said senior linebacker Atiba Bradley. “But to lose a coach to death … it hurts that much more. “I think for all of these last five games, everybody from the seniors down to the freshmen are ready to play hard and go after it.” On Saturday, the Division II Lions (2-3) are scheduled to host Truman State, the school Ware coached for nine years before going to Missouri Southern. “I think that’s a strange irony that we’re playing Truman State,” Beard said. “Aside from Joplin, there isn’t anyplace else on the face of the earth that will be more touched and more impacted than Kirksville and the Truman State campus by the loss of John Ware.” The Lions will wear a patch on their helmets with Ware’s initials, as well a symbol of “1 percent.” “Because he believed the way you become a giant of a man like he was by getting 1 percent better every day,” Matheny said. Missouri Southern center Jason Stumbo said, “He had a huge heart … he just had a connection with his players from the get-go. He taught me more than things on the football field. He taught me stuff that I can use later in life.” An offensive lineman at Drake, Ware signed with the San Francisco 49ers and played in four exhibition games before being cut. Ware also was a five-time U.S. Senior National Powerlifting champion and the 1991 world powerlifting champion, according to the university’s Web site. Before joining the Truman staff, Ware coached one season at Ottumwa High School in Iowa, where he was an all-state offensive lineman. Ware is survived by his wife, Melissa, who previously served as sports information director at Truman State. Funeral arrangements were pending.
Source: Associated Press Archive – Wednesday, September 28, 2005