FLORENCE, Ala. - After 11 courageous years of fighting two of the worst diseases, a beloved Lauderdale County coach has passed.
For nearly three decades, Coach Steve Mayfield has coached just about every sport offered at Central High School. Monday, Coach Mayfield passed away from complications related to ALS.
He leaves behind a family, and a community that will miss the most encouraging coach they've ever known.
Over the course of nearly 25 years at Central High, Mayfield coached Football, Basketball, Junior High Girl's Basketball, and Golf for the school.
"Not going to lie, lost a good friend today," said Principal Duane Keener. "He`s done a little bit of everything."
Longtime Principal Duane Keener wasn't just Mayfield's boss, he was his friend. He loved the lessons he imparted on his students.
"Whether it be the boys in football, basketball, his golf team, even his girls, it was try to improve each and every day," said Principal Keener.
While "coach" pushed for improvement in his players, his own health was deteriorating. In 2006, he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and then beat it, only to learn he had ALS just a few years later.
"As bad as things got, I never heard him say one negative thing," says Keener.
Only a year after his ALS diagnosis, it became hard for Steve to go up the stars in his own home.
"People started giving money, I couldn’t believe the amount of money people gave,” said Mayfield, back in 2015.
His players and students banded together to build a new bedroom on the first floor for the beloved coach. They also did work to restore his spirits.
“Every time I’m feeling down, somebody will call or my friends will come pick me up and take me to eat or take me to the golf course and I ride around and watch them play," Mayfield said.
Yes, even when staring down a brutal illness like ALS, Mayfield's support for Central High never wavered.
“It was always about these kids, it was always about his players that he coached, it was always about what could he do to help you out,” says Kenner.
Much like Mayfield's countless yearbook appearances over the years, not even death, could remove the mark Mayfield has left behind.
“I’ve had numerous texts today from kids talking about how great of a teacher he was. How great of a coach he was, how much he’ll be missed,” says Keener. “We lost a good man today, a good man that fought a brave fight, not only against cancer but against ALS, and he’s going to be missed”
Mayfield's visitation will be Wednesday, March 15, from 11-2 at Lone Cedar Church of Christ in Florence. The funeral will directly follow, starting at 2 pm.
Moving forward, Principal Keener says Steve's legacy will continue on in the form of a scholarship for student athletes. Anyone who would like to donate to help endow that scholarship is encouraged to call Central High School.