GORDONSVILLE — Gordonsville football coach Ron Marshall is still on the sidelines.
But you might not recognize him now after dropping 200 pounds in less than two years.
“I was surprised I was able to do it in the time frame I did it in,” said Marshall, 58, a Gordonsville alumnus. “I set my mind to it and did it. It’s been a long battle. It will be a battle the rest of my life.”
Marshall is a diabetic and was placed on insulin in 2002, causing gradual weight gain. He topped out at 447 pounds and suffered from blisters on his legs. Marshall contracted a staph infection in 2014, and he was hospitalized with double pneumonia, forcing him to miss a game for the first time in his 35-year coaching career.
“When I was a freshman and sophomore, he was having to coach from a chair (on the sideline),” Gordonsville senior Sheldon Harris said. “It seemed like a week later, he lost all that weight.”
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Marshall’s decision to lose the weight came after his daughter Christy’s wedding.
“I was dancing with my granddaughter (Lily),” Marshall said. “She was 1 year old. I told my wife, ‘I have to get in better health so I can dance at her wedding.’”
Debra Marshall — Ron’s wife — added: “He got a little emotional. He said, ‘I have to do something. I want to be here. I was her first dance in her life, and I want to be here at her wedding.’ When he sets his mind to something, it’s a done deal.”
He opted for gastric sleeve surgery. He was required to lose 90 pounds prior to the surgery in July 2015. He lost 117.
Then, weight fell off at a rapid rate following the surgery, as much as 3 pounds per day during one stretch. He is currently losing about a pound a week. At 245 pounds, Marshall weighs the same as he did as a sophomore lineman at Middle Tennessee State. He’s no longer using his insulin pump.
“I used to go to SeaWorld and would have to sit down and rest continuously,” Marshall said. “I feel a lot better. It’s amazing the difference in my energy level. I used to struggle to make it through practice. I don’t anymore.”
Marshall swims 40 laps continuously five days per week before school, and Debra prepares all of his meals, which primarily consist of grilled fish and chicken and steamed vegetables.
“I couldn’t be prouder of him,” she said. “It has to take such mental stamina to do that and iron will. It’s a long process, but he did it faster than anybody.”
Marshall, who led Gordonsville to the 2012 Class 1A state championship, has gone from a waist size of 56 to 38. He’s traded his 4XL shirts for an extra large.
Marshall needs to lose 5 more pounds to be under the 240-pound limit to hang glide with his son-in-law, Trey Amsler, later this fall.
“I still want to go hang gliding and go parachuting out of an airplane,” Marshall said.
Reach Craig Harris at 615-259-8238 and on Twitter @CHTennessean.