Outside of the gymnasium at the Hope Community Church in Apex there were several tables, mini shrines if you will, set up to honor Nick Nosbisch.
One table highlighted his accomplishments as the wrestling coach at Holly Springs: his state championship ring, medals, even the score book from the NCSHAA championship. Another table honored his tennis teams; photos with his student-athletes and tennis balls aligned on the border of the table. Then there was a table dedicated to his childhood, with comic books along with a box set of the Rocky movies next to Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ action figures.
No matter how you knew Nosbisch, there were memories of him sprinkled throughout the lobby, and that was just the beginning of the celebration of his life. Inside the gym hundreds of family, friends, colleagues and former student-athletes told stories, shared laughs and shed tears as they remembered Nosbisch, who passed away at the age of 29 after an 18 month battle with cancer.
Nosbisch, who grew up in Fayetteville, taught social studies and coached tennis and wrestling at Holly Springs. The Holly Springs community rallied around Nosbisch after he was diagnosed and attempted to raise the $30,000 needed to send him to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for treatment. His loved ones had that same passion as they spoke highly of Nosbisch, or “Coach Noz” as the kids called him, Tuesday night.
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“However you referred to Nick, you’re here because he had a positive impact on your life in some way,” Pastor Dave Lanuti said. “It’s OK to cry, it’s OK to be sad, but Nick lived a full life.”
Nosbisch is survived by his wife, Melissa; his parents, Denise and Steve, and his brothers, Jack and Max, who both got on stage and shared found memories of their older brother.
“In Nick’s memory, it is our duty to live our lives to the fullest,” Max Nosbisch said. “It’s moments like this we remember that life is short and even the good die young. We cannot spend life dwelling on past mistakes, heartbreak, malice or grudges. Nick would want us to let those of those moments so that we can build a better life for ourselves and others.”
Jack Nosbisch said the one thing he learned from his older brother in the last 18 months is that life offers no guarantees. Jack, however, found solace from a conversation he had with his older brother in these final 18 months, learning what true courage really is. When Nick decided to stop treatment, Jack asked him how he felt about it. Nick told his brother that he wanted to quality days and not quantity days.
Jack asked his brother how he felt about it and Nick responded, “I’ve lived a good life. I worked, but I didn’t work too hard, I partied, but I didn’t party too much. I saw the world, but not all the world. I did everything in just the right amount and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything.”
Nick Nosbisch’s world was his classroom, according to his high school coach Matt McLean, and the kids who entered Nosbisch’s world were heavily influenced by their coach and teacher. When Holly Springs wrestling coach Cole Long asked all the former athletes in attendance who played under Nosbisch to come up on the stage, the Golden Hawks stood two rows deep, stretching the length of the stage.
A former student, Aaron Redus, talked about his first encounter with Nosbisch, remembering how he didn’t care too much for his new coach initially, but a bond quickly developed, even down to Nosbisch’s last days, when Redus became his “chemo buddy.”
“Nick was cool, despite the comic books, superheroes and action figures, he was cool,” Redus said, drawing a laugh from the crowd. “He would just get it. If you didn’t know Nick you probably don’t know what I mean, but if you knew him, really knew him, I’m sure you understand. You could talk to Nick about anything, nothing was off limits and he had this seemingly limitless storage of advice.”
McLean first met Nosbisch when he was 14 and watched him through high school, remembers encouraging Nick to marry Melissa and eventually growing into the memorable teacher and coach that the Holly Springs community grew to love.
“Having Nick in our lives was something we didn’t deserve,” McLean said. “Yet we all benefited from it.”