Koester checked into Emory University Medical Center in Atlanta Aug. 22 to have a tumor removed from his spinal cord and checked out Sept. 19 -- a day before the team’s third game of the season at Woodland.
In late June Koester went for a check-up after experiencing what he called “some different sensations” in his hand. On July 15 doctors told him about the tumor and gave him three options – removal, being a quadriplegic or death, Koester said.
Choosing removal, he underwent surgery on Aug. 22.
With the tumor being on his spinal cord, which is a key component of the central nervous system, Koester had to relearn how to use his entire body — how to walk, move his hands, everything. He is now on his feet again with the help of a walker.
Through all of this, Koester said he thought of his wife and thanked South Paulding High School and members of his church.
“It’s been quite an ordeal for my wife, but I’m grateful to the booster club and the church folks that came to help us out,” he said.
As a head football coach, unexpectedly undergoing major surgery just before the season did not sit well with Koester as he missed his team’s first two games — both victories.
“Of course it’s been bothersome. You may catch a bit of it on the news or get some of the scores on the phone, but it’s quite a nerve-wracking experience,” said Koester.
The assistant coaches conducted meetings at the hospital with Koester throughout his time in Emory.
He said he was pleased with the job his staff did in his absence and how well everything the coaches implemented was executed on the field.
Koester said he plans to be in the press box during games until he can return to the field.
Before he left the hospital last week, Koester said there were a few things he couldn’t wait to get back to after checking out.
“[I’m looking forward to] being home with my wife, sleeping in my own bed, having home-cooked meals. I just had a grandbaby born last Saturday that I haven’t seen yet. Just getting back to life as normal,” Koester said.