Medina volunteer football coach, Chad Toochek, needed heart to guide him far away from where he started.
“Heart gets me through every day that I don’t want to. The days I want to quit, they days I want to give up, it is my heart that keeps me going,” Toochek explained.
The Medina graduate battled a serious drug addiction that started in high school, where he was a member of the lacrosse team and the football team.
“Marjiuana, that was a daily basis. Dabbled in cocaine, LSD, mushrooms. We did that often, ecstasy… meth, meth too, pills,” He recalled. “I had the desire to fit in and be accepted by my peers.”
The drugs took over his life, and he ultimately became homeless. After hearing a voice in his head on January 30th, 2008, he realized he hit rock bottom and decided to become sober.
Recovering from addiction was a turning point in his life. After a year of sobriety, his heart drove him to play football. He went to junior college and then Western Alabama where he became an All-American player. After college, he played in the Arena Football League. His career ended after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. After beating cancer, his mother passed away unexpectedly.
“She was my rock,” Toochek said. “As she was on her death bed, they were starting to unhook everything and I remember telling her, ‘It’s fine, we will be alright.”
He was telling the truth. With his drug use behind him, his focus has become on the next generation of athletes, mentoring and coaching teens in Medina.
“Every waking moment I have goes to helping kids. I coach at Medina, and the time I spend with these guys, football practice is just a small amount compared to what I spend with them outside of football,” he explained. “I feel like I am doing God’s work. I feel like my purpose is fulfilled. And the best thing about it is there is always more kids.”
The knowledge he passes forward stems from the wisdom he gets from looking backward. He tells young people to stay the to their hearts, as his showed him the way to redemption.
He said, “(Redemption is) proving to everyone, including yourself, that even though you were down and out you can bounce back from that and be better that the person was and better than the person I imagined to be.”