One Stride at a Time: Local track coach clears different kind of - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

One Stride at a Time: Local track coach clears different kind of hurdle

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WABASHA, Minn. (KTTC) -- Mike Kropp has been the head track and field coach at Wabasha-Kellogg High School for 11 years. He was a track athlete himself specializing in hurdles at Winona State. Today, Coach Kropp has a different kind of hurdle to clear. Cancer.

"It's weird because you hear cancer and then brain cancer and then you think how many days do I have left," said Kropp. "Well, here I am five years later so it's worked out so far."

On April 27, 2010, Kropp was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. He underwent surgery a month after his diagnosis and since then, Kropp has been enduring multiple types of chemotherapy and radiation. But that hasn't been enough to pull him away from what he loves to do most.

"It's one of those things, mind over matter," he said. "I want to stay working full-time, I want to continue to coach. They've got the energy of youth and I like to feed off that energy and keep things going."

Another motivating factor for Kropp is his son Connor, a sophomore on the Falcons track team who specializes -  just as his father did - in hurdling.

"I love coming to track practice every day," said Connor. "When I'm hurting after a workout but he's hurting even worse and he didn't even do the workout, it's good inspiration for working hard." 

Since Kropp took over the program in 2004, the Falcons have grown from just six to 55 athletes. Everyone recognizes how special his presence is to the team.

"It is inspiring," Assistant Coach John Thyren said. "But you have to stop every now and again and just remember, 'yeah that's right this guy is doing all this stuff despite having brain cancer and having to go to the hospital to get all these treatments.' It's just amazing."

Even with the recent growth, the Wabasha-Kellogg team is relatively small and inexperienced compared to the rest of the Three Rivers Conference. But Kropp tells his athletes the same thing he tells himself when dealing with cancer. Take each day one stride at a time, set small goals and continue to improve. He is - like any coach - fueled to beat the competition.

"I like to compete with my tumor and I think I'm winning so far," said Kropp.

For more information and updates on coach Kropp you can follow this link: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kroppmichael

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