SPOKANE, Wash. -- Steve Gleason and Mark Machtolf are two Gonzaga Prep sports legends who share a special bond.
Machtolf was Stanford’s designated hitter when they won the National Championship in 1987. He also lettered two years on Stanford’s football team. Now, he is the head coach of Gonzaga University’s baseball team.
When asked if he could compare himself the Gleason, Machtolf was specific.
“I would say there is no comparison. Steve Gleason was a much better athlete than I was,” said Machtolf.
Machtolf would know since he was Gleason’s football and baseball coach. Gleason went on to star for WSU and the New Orleans Saints.
Machtolf went to Gleason’s jersey retirement at Prep in August. Gleason is now battling terminal ALS. His disease will not slow him down. Now, he is raising money and awareness for other ALS patients.
Machtolf said it is still difficult to see the former athlete in a wheelchair.
“You don’t want to feel sorry for him,” said Machtolf. “You just want to admire him for all he does. You want to try to learn from that and mimic some of it a little bit if you can.”
Machtolf shares another connection to Gleason, two of his sons start on defense for this year’s Bullpups. The two are playing some of the same positions Gleason played throughout his career.
Gleason’s example is something Machtolf shares with his sons both on and off the field.
“Using him as a role model as far as how he went about his business in practice and how he played with such reckless abandon,” said Machtolf, “And how he was such a good teammate. And how if you ran into him on the street you would never know he’s an NFL player.”
Now, after 20 years, the coach is learning from the player.