By DAVID VANTRESS firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — GOSHEN — Goshen College men’s basketball coach Neal Young will step away from the program briefly to focus on his battle with cancer.
Young will take a temporary medical leave of absence from his duties, the Goshen athletic department announced. Second-year assistant Brandon Lokken will take over as acting head coach.
Goshen College assistant athletic director for communications Josh Gleason said the move is open-ended for now.
“There’s no timetable,” Gleason said. “We want Coach Young to focus on his health.”
Young was hired as the 14th head coach of the Maple Leafs last April, just two years removed from a three-year stint as an assistant with the program. Just three months later, he was suddenly diagnosed with T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma.
Since that summer diagnosis, Young has been undergoing a series of rigorous treatments. At the advice of his doctors, Young has decided that his best next step in the healing process will be to take some time to recover.
After six years on the staff at Lake Superior State University (NCAA DII) in Michigan, Lokken is in his second year at Goshen College. He assumed the head coaching duties for the Leafs beginning with Wednesday night’s contest against NAIA DII No. 13 Indiana Wesleyan University.
Geason added that Goshen College officials have full confidence in Lokken’s ability to manage the program in Young’s absence. Lokken has been doing some of that already, Gleason said, managing practices when Young was away for treatments. Lokken also coached a game earlier this season when Young had to sit out after getting ejected from a game against Judson College.
In a November interview with the Goshen News, Young said he has been working hard to turn his illness into a positive.
“At first, I thought it was going to be a huge burden,” Young said. “It’s turned out to be more of a blessing. Everything happens for a reason. So much good has come out of this and will continue to come out of it.”