Opening day of the 5A Southern Idaho Conference softball season didn't turn out the way Eagle High coach Doug Corta planned.
Instead of coaching his defending district champion Mustangs against Capital on Thursday, Corta found himself in a hospital bed recovering from surgery to remove a 2-inch tumor from his brain.
His situation became more complicated Friday morning when Corta and his wife, Jacki, were told that, although doctors were able to remove 95 percent of the mass, the tumor was malignant and will require chemo and radiation therapy.
"He's actually really in good spirits. He keeps telling me we are going to fight it and it's going to be OK," Jacki said. "Together, we are going to fight it. We're going to fight it to the end, until it's gone."
Jacki has documented the family's sudden journey - which began Feb. 23 when Corta started experiencing severe headaches - through their CaringBridge.org web page. The softball community has responded wholeheartedly.
"People are going to step up in any way possible to help him out and do whatever is needed," said former Rocky Mountain and Eagle coach Brian White, who first hired Corta to coach the freshmen team at Eagle.
The Borah, Rocky Mountain and Mountain View teams have already offered their support with fundraising and meals.
Said Jacki: "We know we touch people's lives, but we don't realize how many lives we touch until something like this happens. The outpouring of love is just beyond measure. I can't even tell you what we feel. It's awesome.
"Doug and I are going to go battle, and I know we've got an army standing right behind us."
Corta, 45, has recovered well so far, Jacki said. The surgery does not appear to have affected movement on the left side of his body and it has not caused seizures, both of which were possible side effects. He has been moved out of the intensive care unit and into a regular room at St. Luke's Regional Medical Center in Downtown Boise.
Among Corta's immediate concerns, Jacki said, is returning to the softball field as soon as possible.
"The doctor said he could be back to coaching, normal activity, in a month. Now will I allow that?" said Jacki, laughing. "We might be in some pressboxes watching."
Their oldest daughter, Mackenzi, plays shortstop for Weber State, and middle daughter, Bentli, plays the same position for the Mustangs. Thirteen-year-old Demi, the youngest, plays for the Idaho Sliders club team that Corta also coaches.
Bentli chose to play in Eagle's opener after speaking with her dad Wednesday night.
"She walked up to her dad and said, 'Dad, I want to play tomorrow,' " Jacki said. "He said 'I think you should play tomorrow.' "
The Mustangs wore black wristbands with Corta's initials inside a red heart, and pulled off an 8-5 win for their coach. Chalk was used to put large D.C. initials in the dirt near Eagle's dugout.
"To start the season off with the adversity that they started off with yesterday and to come out with a win, he was overjoyed," Jacki said.
It was the first of many battles the Cortas will need to win over the coming months, but a sure sign their will be no shortage of support along the way.
"I have no idea how I could ever touch every single person and tell them thank you for the prayers and the support and the love, but it means the world to Doug and our family," Jacki said.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422, Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX