Washington High School’s involvement in the American Cancer Society Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout means a lot to boys basketball coach Grant Young.
His wife, Julia Young, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.
Media day for the Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout took place Thursday at LockerDome in St. Louis.
The shootout takes place Thursday, Jan. 9. Washington will play the second game of the day against Holt in a GAC Central contest at 11 a.m.
Participating teams were on hand to promote the event.
When it was Washington’s turn to speak, Young took the opportunity to share how cancer has affected his family.
“I’m very blessed to get the opportunity to coach in this event. My wife is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed three years ago. She’s gone through 11 surgeries now in the last three years,” Young told the crowd. “It’s been a blessing to have different organizations, like Coaches vs. Cancer and the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks, support us through our tough time over the past three years. The Purdy (girls) team I had the opportunity to coach and win a state title with, it brought our team together with everything she went through. It’s a great opportunity for us to participate in this event and to give back to everything that has been given to us.”
Grant shared more about his wife with The Missourian.
“She was diagnosed while she was pregnant with our second child. She had two rounds of chemo before delivery of the child. They induced labor on her birthday, which was a special deal for her. She then had three more rounds of chemo after she delivered the baby,” Young said. “She’s doing really good. This is the third year that she’s been cancer free. They haven’t found anything new.”
It was an emotional time when Young’s Purdy girls team won the 2011 Class 2 state championship.
“After we won our state semifinal game, the team we were getting ready to play for the championship won by 30 in the semifinals. I was a little dejected about it because I didn’t think we had a chance against them,” Young said. “Walking out of the Hearnes Center, Julia put her arm around me and told me there was no way we were going to lose. She told me that the state championship game was going to be played on the same date she was diagnosed with breast cancer, so there was no way we were going to lose. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and I walked on our bus a little teary-eyed. Two days later, we went out and beat a very good Couch team to win the state title.”
Young cherishes the opportunity to play in this year’s shootout.
“The Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks really helped us out because it’s very expensive to go through cancer with all the chemo treatments and radiation treatments,” Young said. “It’s always a blessing to give back to all the people who have helped us for what my wife has gone through in the last three years. It’s nice to be a part of something special like this and to show kids what it means to give back to society and to people who go through tough times and the adversity that we’ve gone through.”
Representing the Blue Jays at media day were seniors Jacob Mulkey, Brad Carpenter and Ronnie Suggs.
“I’m excited about it. It’s a big place to play in. Very few people get the chance to play in a place like this,” Mulkey said.
“It’s a big game because it’s a conference game. I’m excited we get to play there. Last year, we played at Mizzou and that was exciting, even though we lost,” Suggs added.
“It’s a big stage. It’s the only time most of us will get a chance to play at Scottrade Center. I hope we play well and have a good showing,” Carpenter said.
Young had similar thoughts on the game.
“Getting to play in a facility like the Scottrade Center, no matter who you play, it’s a fun atmosphere for the kids, the fans, the parents and the student body,” Young said. “You have to soak it up because you’re going to relive these memories for the rest of your life.”
Games begin at 9:30 a.m. with the final contest scheduled for 8 p.m.
Tickets are available at www.scottradecenter.com or by calling 314-622-2551.