Joers, White formed a special bond

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Ben White (left) and Bob Joers (right), shown here with Becky Halverson, were diagnosed with cancer within one month of each other.

They were both dealt hands that were absolutely nightmarish.

Perhaps the only positive in the ordeal is they could lean on each other, and in the process, formed a special friendship.

Ben White, Middleton’s boys volleyball coach and student activities coordinator, was diagnosed with lymphoma in Sept., 2019. Bob Joers, Middleton’s athletic director, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer one month later.

Over the next six months, the two men developed an unforgettable bond under the most trying of circumstances.

“Besides my family, Bob was my immediate support person, and I was his,” White said.

Unfortunately for White — and the entire community — that changed on May 15 when Joers lost his battle with cancer.

Stories flooded in how Joers touched so many lives in and around the area. But the relationship Joers and White built while battling cancer together was both inspirational and motivating.

“There were many mornings during treatment where I didn't want to get out of bed,” said White, who has been in remission since February. “I would send Bob a text asking him if he was at home or at work. Ninety-five percent of the time he was at work and he would usually ask me ‘when are you coming in?’

“I would muster the strength to get up and go to work, just so I could have an hour check-in with Bob where we could talk about cancer. As he said to me one day, ‘I don't wish cancer on anyone, but I am glad to be going through this with you.’ I told him I felt the same way.”

Joers and White were always close.

In 2001, when White was in his mid-20s and had no varsity coaching experience, Joers took a chance and named him Middleton’s boys volleyball coach. That turned out to be one of Joers’ best moves as A.D., as White has built the Middleton program into one of the state’s elite outfits.

Through it all, Joers was there to provide direction to a young coach finding his way.

“I am so lucky that 20 years ago he took a chance on me being head coach of the boys volleyball program,” White said. “He was always there to provide guidance and feedback whenever needed. He was observant and loved stopping into practices to just watch, and once in a while ask a question. And he was truly proud of the work that all the coaches did.”

Two years ago, White began his job as student activities coordinator — one in which he worked closely with Joers on a daily basis.

The two would take walks together most mornings, where they’d catch up and prepare for the day. White will miss those walks — and countless other things — about his dear friend.

“I didn't drink coffee, but I always tried to go on (Bob’s) coffee walks with him, just to learn, get some insight, and more often than not, share a good laugh,” White said. “I will miss his smile, laugh, and goofy humor more than anything.” 

 

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