Kansas City Wizards coach Curt Onalfo is regarded by many as a possible future national team coach. After surviving a battle with Hodgkin's disease in his 20s, writes Kristian Dyer, Onalfo certainly has the tenacity needed for the job.
"My initial reaction was that I was scared," said Onalfo of the time when he was first diagnosed with cancer, after captaining the U.S. team at the 1992 Olympics. "I thought this was it, I thought I was done. I had lived in my 24 years more than most people live in a lifetime. I traveled and had great experiences. I received the diagnosis, then I got ready to fight." Not only did he survive, he was cured and became the father of two children, despite medical prognoses to the contrary. And resumed his playing career before turning to the bench.
Former U.S. coach Bruce Arena knows Onalfo from both before and after his illness, and says that the Wizards' coach hasn't changed. "He is the same person that he was before all this, which is to say that he is a terrific person," said Arena. "He's a fighter, on and off the field. He always was, and he still is." Onalfo still finds it hard to talk about: "I didn't want people looking at me a certain way because of this. I wanted them to judge me for who I am, not some disease I had."