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Connected at the hip
Tracy Ross and Dr. Lee Lausch have had a special relationship ever since Lausch’s days as a Jr. High football player at Cocalico in the late 70s.
Ross, who in those days coached both football and track at Cocalico, eventually got Lausch to come back and help him coach both sports after the latter was through college, and the two maintained a great friendship, both personally and professionally, that has lasted to this day.
Following their coaching days, Ross went on to become Cocalico’s athletic trainer for 23 years while Lausch, who has his own successful chiropractic business in the area, eventually became the team doctor for Cocalico football.
That allowed the two to continue to work together, at least every Friday night in the fall. However, the sidelines won’t be quite the same for Lausch this year as Ross decided to retire following last school year after 35 years of service.
Recently, in honor of Ross’s retirement, Lausch wanted to come up with a simple gesture of appreciation for his friend.
“You get our history together,” Lausch said recently. “In addition to (coaching) I would go in and do a nutrition-type presentation for his health classes, which I did that for a bunch of years. When you play for somebody, coach with somebody, and then you are on the sidelines with them this long and all of a sudden they are retired…(Ross) is always behind the scenes, never takes any credit for anything…I’ve had the good fortune of being with other trainers at other high schools and colleges, just different areas, and he’s the best. I was just looking for something that I could do special for him.”
The two did have a Penn State football connection, having attended many games together over the years.
“My parents had season tickets, but when they started getting up in age they weren’t attending the games, so I always had an extra ticket,” recalled Ross. “So oftentimes I’d buddy with Lee and the two of us would go up and sit on the 40-yard line, 10 rows up and smell the sweat coming off the opposing team because we were right behind their bench. It was cool.”
Well that bond to PSU football gave Lausch an idea one day while he was talking on the phone with former Penn State and NFL tight end Mickey Shuler, who happens to be one of his patients.
“Mickey is a patient, but he is never around,” Lausch explained. “He lives in the Harrisburg area but he travels, and he has a house down in the (Florida) Keys…So the last time he called me was a couple months ago, and he always asks, ‘how did your football team do?,’ because he knows I’m involved. I told him we had a great season, blah, blah, blah…and it just hit me. Penn State…TR…I just asked him if there was anything he could get me or something he might have…He said, ‘I’m going up (to State College) in a couple days and I’ll get something for you.”
A few weeks ago, Lausch received a white #82 (Mickey’s old number) Penn State jersey that was signed not only by Mickey but his son Mickey Jr., who was also a standout tight end at Penn State and is now in the Atlanta Falcons’ camp.
“It just worked out that he was able to get Mickey Jr. to sign it,” Lausch said. “It’s just something I could do to pay back TR in an extremely small way.”
Lausch presented the jersey to Ross last Thursday, and his friend was touched.
“This is certainly overboard,” Ross said to Lausch as he held up the jersey while admiring it. “Lee has been there since my start, and we were together till the end. This is certainly unnecessary but a very nice gesture.”
In retirement, Ross said he plans to do some skiing, and maybe perhaps he’ll head to a Penn State game or two. He’s not exactly sure.
One thing he does plan on continuing is taking in Friday night Eagle games, albeit from the bleachers instead of the sidelines.
“It’s going to be kind of fun on Friday nights, watching from a different perspective,” Ross said.
But along the way, he’ll surely keep an eye out for his friend on the sidelines, and perhaps offer a suggestion or two or lend a hand if Lausch would ever ask.
It would certainly seem like old times for these two that have been connected at the hip in one way or another for 35 years.