What defines a team leader? Is is talent? Is it size? Speed? The loudest one in the locker room? In some instances, yes. In the case of Max Wolfe, his leadership is shown through selflessness.
Max Wolfe is not an athlete. He’s the student assistant coach and equipment manager for the Wingate football team. He’s energetic, personable, reliable, hardworking and caring. So when Wolfe collapsed during the night session of a two-a-day practice in August, it affected the entire Bulldogs family.
“Max is such a vital part of our program,” said Wingate head football coach Joe Reich. “He has a tremendous work ethic because it’s not work to him. … It’s a passion for him.”
Not wanting to disrupt practice, Wolfe started walking toward the field house when he realized he was feeling ill. Kicker Patrick Smith found him and ushered the athletic trainers to aid him about 30 seconds later.
When asked why he didn’t tell anyone, he laughed and said, “No way man. It’s all about the team, I didn’t want to mess things up. The guys were having a good practice and it wasn’t about me.”
Wolfe was rushed to the hospital where doctors ran a number of tests, but they were unable to diagnose a condition.
“They (the doctors) did a CAT exam,” the 22-year-old Gastonia native said.
Reich rushed to his side and waited with him at the hospital until his family arrived, a gesture Wolfe will always remember.
“Coach Reich has been in my corner every step of the way,” Wolfe says. “I could not be more grateful to him.”
Reluctantly, Wolfe missed four games this season. He diligently watched the games via video stream and found himself yelling like he would on the sideline.
He was able to make necessary phone calls and send emails for the team while convalescing. Wolfe finally worked his way back for the last five games of the season in a limited role, spending most of his time in the press box with other coaches.
“This program means more to me than anything,” Wolfe says.
Wolfe did not play sports at Hunter Huss High School in Gastonia. He served as the team’s equipment manager there, too.
He loves to serve, and when he graduates in May with a degree in criminal justice (and a minor political science), he wants to be a Gastonia police officer.