Celebration of Life
Mark Foster once let Ryan and I know that his meeting with the parents went well. We asked, “what was the main message?”. “I let them know I was the rock.”
Mark Foster, a long-time coach, servant, and friend passed on this weekend.
Mark coached and built the WSA 98 Girls team, which his daughter Kayla was a member of during her career at WSA. His wife Melissa served a long stint on the WSA Board. Besides coaching, Mark served everywhere and anywhere. He was a “see and serve” person by nature. The Foster family which extends to several cousins that currently play and have played for WSA, have woven the fabric of the identity of our organization for over two decades. Mark was, for many of our staff, “the rock”.
Mark coached the WSA 98 Girls team with current WSA President Josh Eardley, and eventually hired Ryan Bush to take the lead when the girls turned 12. Mark was insistent and particular on his choices of who he would hire. Mark was not the Director, but he gave himself the hiring authority. Two candidates, who happened to be brothers, made the initial and the final short list, which contained.... .2 candidates. Mark, Ryan and Josh (and eventually Coach Jammer) continued to lead the team through the team’s graduation. Mark was the rock.
Mark Foster & Josh Eardley Coaching '98 Girls, Daughter Kayla, kneeling, 4th from Right.
First season, Mark & Josh led team to one of many league Championships.
Daughter Kayla, standing in back 3rd from Right.
Mark eventually hired Ryan Bush and sealed the deal over a home-cooked meal Melissa
prepared to "trick" Ryan into showing up to meet about team communication and coordination.
"He thought it was about mashed potatoes and chicken...."
Kayla holds the trophy in the center of this photo.
The 98 girls won a lot. Here Mark & Ryan w/ team after a championship victory.
Eventually the team reached the USYS National Final-8 where they finished 5th in the nation in 2017.
Growing up my dad spent a lengthy period of time coaching our soccer team. Mark was able to play until he eventually had to remove himself from sports due to a heart condition. My dad had favorite players. Mark might have been his favorite.
I did not understand when we were kids why a player who was not quite as skilled as the others would highlight a coach’s list. As an adult, it’s obvious. Mark is the epitome of teammate, the pinnacle of friend, and the standard for loyal. He was willing to play the game with reckless abandon, without concern for his well being or his body and to literally bleed for the cause. An ironic twist to know his body was what would eventually limit his ability to play is what Mark put further on the line each time. He did not count the cost.
Looking back through the lens of adulthood, on the times of youth, Mark was then, what he has always been; fierce, bold, loyal, insightful, and willing to sacrifice himself, expecting nothing in return, for those he called family and friend.
Mark on one of Sand Springs first competitive teams in the 1980's.
Coach Roger Bush Senior, teammates, Dan Eardley, Chad Foster, Brad Edgington,
Kevin Brown, Jeff Haney, Roger Bush Jr, Anthony Pedone, Luong, all have had ties to WSA.
Mark was led to coach because he loved Kayla. He was inspired to coach because he had something important to share with others. Mark led from a perspective that motivated others to become their absolute best with the gifts they had. Mark understood soccer, but he wrote the definition of courage. Life gave him a defective physical heart, and he manufactured the most perfect solution, a courageous response to share his Spiritual Heart with others.
Players who played for Mark Foster were inspired to offer their Heart to the cause. It was actually a requirement, a non-negotiable. All who know Mark, understand his heart was what he gave. And he provided this willingly, with no pretense for anything in return. This is generosity. This is friendship.
Mark grew ill the past two years. He was preparing for a heart surgery. As I understand a follow-up to the open-heart surgery of Mark’s youth. During this 2-year process Mark endured countless days in the hospital, residing on life-support systems, and inexplicably would recover each time.
I met Mark and Melissa at the soccer fields not too long ago. They were on a walk. Mark was regaining his strength, in preparation to walk Kayla down the aisle. His determination was impeccable, admirable, and awe-inspiring. But there was nothing boastful in Mark’s recount of his triumph of the past two years of challenges which were medical mysteries to the experts, and no bitterness or self-pity. He was humble, peaceful, comedic as ever, and even mystified at the journey.
His primary concern and focus besides walking Kayla down the aisle at her wedding was in hope that Ryan would not miss or forget about the service, for which Ryan was the minister. “Your brother needs to put this on his calendar because we don’t have a back-up.” The exact quote was more colorful – you know Mark. His past two years he’d spent a majority of time in a hospital, during many moments clinging to life. I’ll restate that, to honor Mark, the truth was he was boldly, stubbornly, fighting to fulfill his objective. He won. In the face of incredible challenge, incredible struggle, and even more incredible triumph, Mark did not alter his perspective on life and others. And, he walked Kayla down the aisle.
Thursday, September 29th, many will attend Mark’s Celebration of Life. As an organization we stand with Melissa and Kayla, to honor the LIFE of this extraordinary man, Mark Foster. Thank God for the abundance of Life that was gifted to Mark and then shared with each of us. We are grateful and honored for the moments of this earthly walk. May we each learn to live here, in our earthly moments, with such courage, generosity, and truth, that honor the legacy of our rock, Mark Foster.
I respectfully ask WSA members to consider honoring the Life of Mark Foster this next week, by honoring your own gifts, to bring maximal light to what Mark identified as supremely important, to give all of your Heart to the cause, to the person, to the passion in front of you. The name Mark means "shining". May we all let this message shine this next week in all we do, to honor a life well-lived, that has intertwined in some way with each of us at The Side.
Roger Bush and all who know Mark Foster