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Students, staff remember Beech Grove basketball coach

BEECH GROVE, Ind. (WISH) — The Beech Grove community mourned Monday after a well-loved high school basketball coach lost his battle with brain cancer. 

Matt English, 45, was first diagnosed back in 2011 he was in remission for several years, but he passed away early Monday morning.

English served as the head basketball coach at Beech Grove High School. He was also the school’s athletic director. English’s work on the court made him popular throughout the community, but it’s what he did off the court that will leave a lasting impression. 

“I always thought that Coach English would always be around and that he was going to kick cancer’s butt,” said senior Emily Johnson.

“He was this huge tall guy coaching us around, telling us what to do,” said Gavin Hess, also a senior at Beech Grove High School. 

English was first diagnosed with cancer nearly seven years ago. He beat it and was in remission until 2016. His health struggles took a back seat to his passion on the court. 

“The night before games or days, how tired or sick he was, he’d still get out and go out there and fight for his team,” said assistant athletic director Garrett Daniel. 

The gym named in English’s honor was empty Monday, as silence replaced the excitement of basketball. But his memory is still very much alive: An empty chair will be left open at every game this season in his honor. 

“He was a father figure to me. He’d always give good advice with basketball and with not basketball, just with life,” said senior Griffin Wade. 

“Even if he was having one of his worst days, he’d always make sure you were having a good day,” said Hess. 

English’s mantra is written across the gym floor: “We before me,” a lesson that goes beyond the court. 

“I just want everyone to know that Coach English wasn’t just a coach, he was a great man,” said Johnson. 

English leaves behind a wife and daughter. Funeral arrangements had not been announced on Monday.