West Branch legend Butch Pedersen battling myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood cancer

Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 10:34 PM CDT
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WEST BRANCH, Iowa (KCRG) - Butch Pedersen has conquered 336 opponents in his 39-year career with the Bears, but he’s facing his biggest battle off the field.

Two weeks ago, Butch was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood cancer.

“It was a shock to me and my wife,” Butch said. “I got to the point where there was a lot of sadness, then it got to the point where it is what it is, let’s go!”

Butch has always been a fighter, and despite chemotherapy treatments this week, he made it to practice on Wednesday.

“If I expect my players, my family, and everyone else to be positive and get after things, I need to do the same, and that’s kind of where I’m at right now.”

Butch plans on coaching from the press box on Friday night.

“I couldn’t come Monday and Tuesday because it hits you pretty good,” Butch said. “Hopefully, if we win the football game, I will continue on that process. Once a Bear, always a Bear.”

Butch’s players are inspired.

“I’m proud he’s fighting through it, still trying to be here with us,” said senior Carver Boelk.

“We all know he’s tough, and he will get through it. We’re all confident of that,” said Bears assistant coach John Hierseman.

Butch’s Bears have dominated everyone they have played this year, with a 9-0 record heading into Friday night’s playoff game against Columbus at the Little Rose Bowl.

“Everyone kind of knows what we are playing for this point,” said senior Kinnick Boelk. “It’s not just for each other, it’s for Butch.”

“For me, I’m using this as big motivation,” said senior Andy Henson. “I’m assuming the other guys are too. I just want to bring a trophy home to him.”

Pedersen has led the Bears to 3 state titles in 1989, 1991 and 1992. He was named the national coach of the year in 2017.

The field at the Little Rose Bowl was named after him in 2018.

“It’s almost kind of like this guy that can’t be touched. He is almost kind of invincible, if you will,” said Kinnick Boelk.

“My family will be with me all the way through, and these guys are part of my family,” Butch said. “I am going to beat this. I am going to coach until they drag me off the field.”