WHEELING, W.Va. — A beloved former coach and community figure in Wheeling has died after a long battle with a dreaded illness. Mark Nardone died Christmas morning after a more than year-long battle with ALS.
“They’d just gotten up to open their gifts and a short time later he passed away,” shared West Virginia SSAC Executive Director and longtime Wheeling Park administrator Bernie Dolan.
Dolan and Nardone coached and taught together man year. Dolan shared several of his fond memories about Nardone on Monday’s MetroNews Talkline.
“Mark was very passionate about everything he did,” said Dolan. “It went from coaching, to teaching, to everything. He trained like a maniac at times.”
The horrible illness is made even more difficult by the fact your mind is unaffected, but your body’s muscle rapidly deteriorates. Dolan said that was even harder to see because Nardone always kept himself in great physical shape and took great pride in his appearance. Dolan noted it was actually after a race a few years back the disease was first noticed.
“He ran a half marathon that he had run many times. When he finished something didn’t feel right. He felt exhausted,” explained Dolan. “That was the first time he’d felt the first signs of something coming on.”
Despite his health continuing to dwindle, Nardone fought to stay alive to see his son finish high school and play his senior football season at Wheeling Park, a season in which the Patriots won their first ever state championship. Nardone flipped the coin to start the game.
“He was so positive clear up to the very end,” said Dolan. “He was such an inspiration when we would feel sorry for him, he would blow it off and say, ‘No we’re going to beat it. We’re just going to keep fighting.'”
Nardone was 54.