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The Champ is Winning This Day

by Stacey Tinsley

The church isn’t a building, it’s a people.  It’s a people that love God and love others.  It’s a people that celebrate.  It’s a people that bless and serve those around them.

The church is a body of believers that live out the Gospel in their words and actions. And, that’s exactly what members of one local church did on Wednesday, May 17, when (surrounded by his family, friends and hundreds of his church family), Cypress Baptist Church worship pastor Seth Whorton led worship and then took the Lord’s Supper at Ronnie Coker’s house. 

Due to his failing health, Coker has been unable to attend church services at Cypress Baptist. So his good friends Jason Rowland, Assistant Superintendent of Bossier Parish Schools, and John Fream, Senior Pastor of Cypress Baptist Church, decided that since Coker cannot attend church, they would take the church to him. And after the Lord’s Supper, Cypress Baptist Church licensed Coker to the gospel ministry and had prayer for him.  

“We are praying for healing here on earth and knowing that Ronnie wins either way!  Ronnie is always texting me to Win the Day and he certainly did as Cypress gathered in his front yard,” Fream said.

The night concluded with Coker speaking to the crowd from his rocking chair on his front porch. He shared with the crowd the good news about his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  

It was a message of love and faith that he has for “his King.” He also spoke about meeting Jesus Christ face to face one day and how that would be his ultimate healing.  

Rowland, Coker’s longtime friend and fellow church family member, said seeing Coker and Cypress Baptist Church members gather at Coker’s house, was truly a night to remember.

“Wednesday night, Cypress Baptist Church showed what the church can be. With an overflow crowd, Pastor John Fream led a Wednesday night service and observance of the Lord’s Supper with “The Champ,” Ronnie Coker. Coach Coker, known as a long-time baseball coach in Northwest Louisiana, is a three-time state champion, an LBCA Hall of Famer, and a member of the Cypress Baptist Church family was officially licensed into the ministry on this wonderful night,” Rowland said.

“Coach Coker has been a dear friend for many years. I grew up watching him play for the 1981 Minden Crimson Tide that won the first of three state championships. We would later coach against each other with him winning two more state championships while I took a different path,” Rowland added.

Rowland went on to say “In 2010, I was given the privilege of serving as the principal at Airline High School and my first hire was to make Ronnie Coker my athletic director. I knew he was a winner, I knew he was a champion and I knew he was what God had sent our way. “Coach Coker served in that role for 11 years and not only did he lead our athletic department, but he poured into all of our students like no one I had ever seen. I had always said when asked about hiring him for the role of AD, everything Coach Coker touches turns to gold. The same is true for the impact he has had on the lives of thousands that he has touched. They will be forever impacted by this man. And, what he has done for this community and for his King is far more precious than gold.”

“The Champ is fighting a battle with cancer as of today. However long this battle takes, we all know that he will win. You see — you can’t be a Champion without winning and that is exactly what he is doing today. He is “Winning This Day” no matter what. May God bless my friend, the Champ, Ronnie Coker,” Rowland concluded.

In July of 2021, the Bossier Parish School Board approved a motion to name Parkway High School’s baseball stadium Ronnie Coker Field.

Coker retired in 2021 after a 25-year coaching and teaching career spent mostly in the Bossier Parish school system. His career concluded with a long stint as Airline High School’s athletic director.

In addition to leading Parkway High School to a state baseball title in 1998, Coker also led Parkway to a state runner-up finish in 1997. Coker also guided Captain Shreve to its only baseball state championship in 2006. The Gators finished as the Class 4A runner-up in 2007.

Coker was inducted into the Louisiana Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2019. He has received many other honors, including being named Coach of the Year by the Louisiana Baseball Coaches Association and the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

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