In the 608: Local wrestling coach battling cancer, inspiring others

ORFORDVILLE, Wis. — It’s not rare to find Kate Brown coaching wrestling at Orfordville Schools.

“Wrestling just became something that was in our living room every day,” Brown said.

What is rare, is the coach herself, guiding young athletes through a male-dominated sport.

“I actually don’t see any of them. It’s on the rise now. So yeah I go to the coach’s clinic and I’m the only woman there that’s not a wife or a girlfriend,” Brown added.

Coach Kate, as sophomore Sam Schwengels and junior Wyatt Egan call her, say it’s Kate’s powerful voice that gets them going.

“She helps me to push myself to do the best and achieve what I’m capable of doing,” said Schwengels.

“Coach Kate is another mom to me and has been more than just a coach to me,” Egan added. “Like another friend or parent you could turn to if you needed something.”

Kate’s helped run the Parkview School District’s wrestling program for seventeen years, raising all three of her boys on the mat, too.

But the battle she’s wrestling with now quite literally took her breath away. Back in May, Kate had a concerning cough and the saliva that came with it just wasn’t going away. After multiple tests, doctors noticed a mass in her lung.

“We were really hoping for like lymphoma or any other type of cancer that was curable, but it is terminal,” explained Brown.

Shortly after her 42nd birthday, Kate was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Making matters worse, it had already spread to her brain and bones.

“We’re just going to give it our best go because that’s what we do,” Kate said.

This isn’t the first tragedy the family’s had to overcome Kate lost her one-year-old daughter in an accident back in 2008. Kate tells me it’s the community who helped her heal the first time.

“A lot of the people from back then are the same people now who came forward,” she added.

As you drive around the village of under 1,300 today, it’s that community behind “Team Kate” once again.

“There’s just so many people who want to help and they genuinely care. And that’s a good feeling you know,” said Kate.

Now Kate’s got her bucket list and one item crossed off already is a recent skydiving adventure in the Grand Canyon with her 18-year-old son.

She tells me faith keeps her going along with the rare but powerful connection between her family at home and her boys on the mat.

“I know Kate’s never one to give up. She’s always there,” Wyatt Egan said. “Life lessons every day.”

“You have to lead by example you know,” said Kate. “We tell them all the time that if there’s still time on the clock, there’s still time to win. We’re looking for that. We’re looking for a miracle.”

Kate’s prognosis is a few months, but doctors are amazed that she is still walking and talking and doing everything the same as always.

Her bucket list includes taking some trips with friends and family yet, but she’s most looking forward to this coming wrestling season where the team is already recruiting girls to the mat.

They have several benefits coming up to support the family, including a golf outing and community benefit this coming weekend.