MANKATO, Minn. (FOX 47) — Football season is already underway, but in Division II, things get started this weekend. The Minnesota State University, Mankato Mavericks have built one of the top football programs in the nation.
With more than 100 players on the roster it’s hard to find one without a story, but for Mike Coble, a dual-sport star from Byron, his story changed dramatically last year.
“I definitely still think about it just here and there,” said Minnesota State Wide Receiver, Mike Coble.
Coble was a dual-sport star in Byron racking up touchdowns and buckets for the Bears, impressing many college scouts and earning him a football scholarship at Division II powerhouse MSU Mankato.
“Mike’s an offensive guy, he’s a play maker,” said Minnesota State Head Coach, Todd Hoffner.
But in the summer of 2018, Mike’s body shut down and doctor’s weren’t sure what was happening before the diagnosis finally came in: Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).
A rare disorder in your body’s immune system that attacks your nerves and can quickly spread, paralyzing your whole body.
“We really were heart struck for his family and for him,” said Hoffner.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome has no known cause and no known cure. Coble’s symptoms were so severe, he began rapidly losing weight and was put on breathing and feeding tubes, but he and his community in Byron never gave up hope.
“It makes it a heck of a lot easier to keep going, if there’s ever a day that I feel like I can’t do it or can’t get through it. I just think about them back home and know that I’ve got a lot of people behind me,” explained Coble.
Coble recovered from the disorder in time to start classes last fall and work with the team, red-shirting his first year, while he continued to recover.
“I originally wasn’t sure if I was going to get out here for the semester, but they were still on my side, so I figured I’d get out here and get working,” continued Coble.
Flash forward to this offseason, more than a year removed from that terrible time in his life, Coble is back on the practice field, working with his teammates and coaches at Minnesota State.
“Being this close to maybe not being around and not with us and what a miracle it is to have him on our team,” said Hoffner.
A miracle to be around, but it wasn’t easy to get to where he is today.
“When Mike came back, he was really eager to get started really fast. We told him ‘hey slow down a little bit Mike, you just learned to tie your shoes again,” continued Hoffner.
Just 12 months removed, Coble says he’s feeling back up to speed and ready to contribute when his name is called.
“I feel like I’m definitely back to normal, maybe even surpassed where I was before the incident happened, but I’m feeling really good out here now today. It’s definitely a process, but the longer you stick with it, the easier it comes, the faster it comes to you,” said Coble.
And for the now 6’3″, 190 pound receiver, anything is possible.
“It’s gonna be like magic out there, go get some W’s with the team, see a lot of great plays happen,” continued Coble.
“If he can make the big strides he made in the first 12 months, over the next 3-4 years, the sky is the limit. And some day, I don’t know when, we’ll see Mike on the football field,” said Hoffner.
Minnesota State has had a pretty good track record with receivers, most notably Vikings star Adam Thielen, meaning Coble is in good hands with the Mavericks. Everyone in Byron and beyond will be looking forward to the day Coble takes the field at Blakeslee Stadium.