'Special young man': Mount Shasta QB returns to football to honor his mom who died of cancer

Aaron Williams
Special to the Mount Shasta Herald
Cole Kindley looks to throw a pass in 2020 during a practice at Joe Blevins Memorial Stadium in Mount Shasta.

The fact Cole Kindley suited up to play a high school football game against Hamilton on Oct. 29 reveals tons about the Mount Shasta quarterback’s character.

After all, the Bears senior had been missing from the team for several weeks due to the illness and eventual death of his mother, Glenna, on Oct. 12.

The team was winless and had lost two games and forfeited another in Kindley’s absence. And though the 6-foot-4, 230-pound signal-caller/linebacker was grieving the loss of his mom, he knew he needed to return to the football field.

“For two days after she died I was thinking about just taking a break from everything,” he said. “I'm not going to lie, it was real hard. But something hit me. 

“Football is like having a second family and I needed to be back there with them.”

Mount Shasta High School's football MVP Cole Kindley

And with Kindley back under center for the Bears — and perhaps some divine guidance from Glenna — Mount Shasta notched its first and only win of the season, 34-22 over the Braves.

“You have to realize we’re a football family, it’s what this family does,” said Dave Kindley, who also was an assistant for the Bears. 

All four Kindley boys — Cole, Kirby, Bodie and Lane — played for the Bears. Dave was the head coach in 2020 until Glenna’s treatment took precedence. Kirby and Bodie have also helped coach at Mount Shasta. And Glenna was a fixture at the field, helping out in numerous ways, including being a “vocal supporter.”

“There’s no question that football helped bring them through this,” said Mitch Crossley, the Bears’ head coach. 

And through Cole’s perseverance and dedication, he was recently named to the Lions All-Star football game roster. The annual game featuring the Northern Section’s top graduated seniors is set for June 18 at Shasta College.

“Everything that’s happened has turned Cole and his brothers into men pretty quick,” Dave Kindley said. “He navigated high school through COVID, played football and when his mom got sick took on a full man’s load around the house.

“That’s a special young man.”

Glenna Kindley, 47, grew up in Eureka and married Dave in 1995. She loved her boys, Mount Shasta sports and spending time at the lake.

Dave Kindley said his wife began having difficulty breathing in August 2020, something they figured was a byproduct of swallowing dirty water. When the conditions persisted, the couple went to the doctor.

Cole Kindley, left, stands with Matteo DeLeon and Cameron Collord in 2021.

“He was concerned,” Dave said. “At first we couldn’t figure out what it was. It wasn’t breast cancer or lung cancer and she didn’t have the history for that.”

Follow-ups and consultations eventually revealed a Mesothelioma diagnosis.

“They said it was due to asbestos exposure,” Dave said, adding her father was a mechanic. 

The tumor was on her lungs and touching her heart, making it inoperable. But the family found a Houston specialist who removed three-quarters of Glenna’s left lung in January 2021, Dave said. 

An April trip for radiation gave the family hope the worst was behind them.

“We thought we had this whole thing beat,” Dave Kindley said. “By August, though, she couldn’t breathe and we found it had spread to her right lung.”

And as Cole Kindley was set to start his final year of football and high school, he also had to come to terms that his mom was losing her battle.

“Seeing her barely able to talk or breathe was the hardest thing,” Cole Kindley said. “She was the toughest person I know.”

But the quarterback, who had been the starter since his sophomore season, also knew his 16-man team was also relying on him.

The Bears lost their first five games of the season, including a 14-0 defeat to Williams on Oct. 8. Four days later, Glenna Kindley died surrounded by her husband and four sons. 

 “Our community is amazing and rallied around us big time,” Dave Kindley said. “You never really know how many people truly care about you until something like this happens.”

And though no one expected him to, Cole Kindley returned to football in an unspoken tribute to his mother.

“I decided she was going to live like she did when she was here,” he said.

And that included football.

“I actually had no nerves,” he said about returning to the gridiron. “Something clicked when I was at practice.

“It was the most motivated I think I’ve ever been. Nothing else mattered other than making the right plays and beating the other team. I would like to think she was helping us a little.”

In the midst of basketball season currently, Cole said baseball will follow like most small school athletes before the Lions game and then heading to Shasta College and a chance to play for the Knights alongside Lane.

“There’s really no quit in that kid,” Dave Kindley said of his youngest. “I don’t really know how to say how proud I am of him … and all his brothers. We have a strong faith and it’s carried us. 

“Plus, I know she would not have wanted to see him on the sidelines.”

Aaron Williams is the national editor and volleyball writer at MaxPreps. The former sports editor at the Record Searchlight has been active in the North State sports community for more than 20 years as a writer, and coach at the youth and high school level. He enjoys spending time golfing or hiking with his partner Michelle and their mastiff, Maui.