Matt Vinson, former Tanque Verde assistant under Jay Dobyns, suffers life-threatening brain ailment

Former Tanque Verde High School coach Jay Dobyns, a standout when he played at Sahuaro High School and Arizona in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, and his son Jack recently made an emergency trip to Odessa, Texas, to check on former Hawks assistant Matt Vinson’s brain ailment that has threatened his life. Vinson, a former teammate of Jack’s at Chadron (Neb.) State, coached with Tanque Verde in 2020 before leaving to Odessa High School with Jack in 2021. Jack returned to Tucson last season to coach again with his dad at Tanque Verde. Jay Dobyns resigned from Tanque Verde after last season following three years with the program. A GoFundMe account has been set up to assist Vinson and his family. Jay Dobyns wrote the following about Vinson’s recent ordeal:

By Jay Dobyns

As you know, Matty was Jackie’s college roommate and teammate at Chadron State in Nebraska.  He moved to Tucson and helped start the rebuild of the TV football program in 2020 as our QB and Strength and Conditioning Coach.  He accepted a similar role with the Odessa (TX) High School football program in 2021.  Matt and Jackie both moved to Texas to coach and teach.

Matt started feeling sick around the holidays, severe headaches, then vomiting.  He first thought it was bad flu.  His vision started blurring so he got an eye exam and ordered glasses.  None of this relieved his symptoms and he started to feel unbalanced.  He got some migraine medicine but still no improvement.  Last week Wednesday his doctor in Odessa ordered an MRI.  Typical Matty, through all this he continued to coach and teach every day.

Thursday, he met with his doctor in Odessa to discuss the results and received the worst news possible; he had an inoperable and incurable brain tumor (glioblastoma).  He was advised to get his affairs in order and that he had a short time to live.  They sent him home with instructions for another doctor consultation on Monday.  Matt notified his family and those close to him of the news.  Everyone able started moving in his direction toward Odessa.  His family began their journey from Rapid City, South Dakota, a tear-and-worry-filled 24 hour-plus trip.

Matt Vinson spent the 2020 season as the quarterbacks coach with Jay Dobyns and Tanque Verde (Tanque Verde photo)

Jackie and I were able to get there a bit quicker with a shorter distance to cover and head start from Tucson.  We got to him early Friday morning and he was obviously suffering — head pounding, vomiting, difficulty in walking, but he was communicating and still maintained his sense of humor.  There was no question that he was sick, but Matt was simply following the doctor’s orders.  We got him settled at his apartment just to bridge the gap until his mom and dad could arrive and take over care.

By early evening Friday, he was rapidly deteriorating.  He couldn’t walk, struggled communicate, very low pulse, shallow breathing, excruciating pain.  We called 911 and he was taken to the ER.  He received first-level emergency care, and his family arrived at the hospital.  The decision was quickly made to elevate his care, transferring him via ambulance to the Texas Tech University Medical Center ICU in Lubbock. 

Upon arrival, he was in such bad condition that the initial reaction was that he needed emergency surgery.  Expert doctors stabilized him and after further evaluation it was discovered that in addition to the tumor, he had a ‘brain bleed’ and intercranial swelling which was causing his symptoms and debilitating pain.  More evaluations were done through the day on Saturday and a game plan was formed between Matt, his doctors, and his parents.

Early Sunday morning, approximately 15 family and friends had gathered in his hospital room to pray with and over him.  He had mentally and emotionally prepared himself for ‘game day.’  No one there had any doubt Jesus was present.  He then underwent a 3-plus hour brain surgery. 

After, the neurosurgeon advised that the tumor was large but that she believed she had completely removed it.  She further advised that the initial information given Matt was a misdiagnosis and the cancer WAS NOT the catastrophic, doomsday type originally thought.  She was very enthusiastic that with further treatment, any lingering cancer could be completely eliminated and cured.

Post-op Matt was tremendously improved.  He was alert, could speak in fully formed and coherent sentences, he could see, he could hear, he was wiggling his fingers and toes. … and he was thankful that they did not have to fully shave that massive head of hair, haha.

Thank you.  Your call to pray was critical.  The response was extensive.  God heard you.  He sent His Angels to give Matt comfort.  They guided the strategy and intelligence of his medical team and steadied the hands of his surgeon.  He brought peace, calm, and clarity to Matt’s parents.  God delivered hope to what only hours before appeared hopeless.  Those present all knew that we were personal witnesses to a real-time miracle.  You helped bring that to Matt, through your prayers.  His family wants to make sure everyone knows how thankful they are that you loved Matty.  God is good.  He rewarded your Faith.

Matt is not out of the woods yet.  He needs therapy, rehab, and more treatments.  When you hit your knees tonight, please ask God to stay with Matt through the rest of this journey, for as long as it takes.  Matt and everyone around him needs peace, comfort, strength, resiliency, courage, healing, undeniable unity of teamwork and undefeatable willpower of spirit.  God will deliver if we ask.  (Haha, sounds like a pre-game speech, which it kind of is.  He’s playing the biggest and most important game of his life.)  

His family will have to relocate to Texas for a period of time.  A GoFundMe account has been established to help provide them ability to stay focused on Matt and the objectives at hand and avoid being distracted by outside obligations.  If you are able, please help.

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