Philadelphia Soul defensive backs coach Bernie Nowotarski has led his defense to be one of the best in the Arena Football League this season. Philadelphia leads the league with 25 interceptions.
Tracy Belton leads the league with eight of them. His teammate, Dwayne Hollis is right behind him with eight interceptions, four of which were returned for touchdowns. That’s not the biggest battle Nowotarski is facing this season.
He has been battling blood cancer for the past four years. The condition, called Multiple Myelona, causes cancer cells to form in the bone marrow and crowd healthy blood cells. This disallows Nowotarski to celebrate a Soul score like he used to be able to. He won’t allow it to affect him mentally, however.
“I tell any of the players I have coached over the last four years since my diagnosis – when you are feeling sorry for yourself or you think things are getting tough, just look over to the sidelines, think about what I am battling everyday and realize you can always did deeper, work harder and do whatever it takes to be successful,” Nowotarski said, “excuses are not in my playbook.”
Nowotarski is also a former coach of the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks football team. The Steelhawks will be joining the new Arena Development League in 2017. The Soul will host the Tampa Bay Storm in the first round of the AFL playoffs on Sunday night at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA, home of the Steelhawks.