Mark Rego, Union High School’s offensive line coach and longtime assistant football coach in Clark County, died Saturday morning of complications from a recent lung cancer diagnosis. He was 57.
Rego last coached in Union’s 43-14 nonleague win over Eastlake at McKenzie Stadium on Sept. 14, said Union head football coach Rory Rosenbach, after a doctor’s visit revealed cancer had returned. Back in the spring, Rego overcame Stage 3 tongue cancer to start his 28th season coaching in Evergreen Public Schools in August.
With his tongue cancer in remission this summer, Rego told The Columbian in August he sees life “in a whole different aspect now.”
“Enjoy where you’re at,” Rego said in August, “and what you’re going through. Enjoy the journey, because that’s the stuff you’re going to remember.”
Rego, an Evergreen High School graduate, got his start coaching high school football for Jon Eagle at Evergreen in 1989 as a volunteer coach. He quickly moved up to Eagle’s offensive line coach, and later coached with Cale Piland at Evergreen and then Union when the school opened in 2007, at Union under Gary McGarvie followed by Rory Rosenbach. Rego worked in campus security at Union, and served as an assistant track and field coach.
Rosenbach, in his third season at Union, said Saturday Rego touched lives beyond Union football, and the reason he coached was because of the kids.
“He’s as dedicated a coach as I’ve ever been around,” Rosenbach said. “He was amazing with those kids; he loved all of them whether they were all-league or seventh string, it didn’t matter.
“He loved everyone one of them.”
Rosenbach also praised Rego as a “model for everybody” and putting his family — wife of 32 years, Kimberlee and their children, Bridgette and Gabe — No. 1.
A celebration of life that’s open to the public will be at 2 p.m. Oct. 20 at Union High School.