ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Sandia baseball coach John Gunther died at home Wednesday morning after battling cancer for over a year. Gunther was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in January of 2016.
He fought a courageous battle and even talked openly to KRQE Sports about his diagnosis.
“It spread to my lungs and to my liver,” said Gunther. “It is what it is. We got on a treatment program and we’re fighting through this.”
Gunther was right to say “we’re” fighting through this, because the community came out to support him and even held a 5k race in his honor while doing so.
The mood at Sandia High School Wednesday was heavy.
“We knew it was going to come for a long time but, when we did hear the news it was really hard on all of us,” said pitcher and first baseman Chris Stephens.
Teammate and pitcher Ricky Apodoca expressed how close he felt to Gunther.
“I would like to say that he was my second father,” said Apodoca. “He thought me how to be a man and grow up and have a strong mentality.”
Gunther was strong in his fight against cancer. He even tried to return to coaching this season, but, a few weeks ago the disease started to win, forcing Gunther into hospice care.
“Hopefully he is in a better place right now and he’s not suffering,” said Sandia C Team Coach Chris Mondragon.
Gunther was a teacher and coach at Sandia for 12 years. He was head coach of the Matadors baseball team for six seasons, leading the team to the state tournament championship game in 2012 and 2013. He is survived by a wife and four children. Gunther was 55-years old. Funeral services are still pending.