By Dave Boehler
for The Beacon
Coaching against a family member is hard enough.
Imagine the difficulty when the game is a fundraiser for a sister-in-law fighting cancer.
“It was quite an event,” South boys basketball coach Jesse Shaw said.
The Redwings beat Pulaski, coached by Shaw’s brother, on Dec. 13.
But what mattered most is nearly $6,000 was raised for Jesse’s sister-in-law, Amy, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in May.
“I guess it’s always tough, as I experienced last year for the first time in nine years coaching against him,” Shaw said. “It’s not something we enjoy or really look forward to. Our family is so close; my dad being a former basketball coach himself for many years, it runs in the family. The three of us spend a lot of time together researching the game, going to clinics, talking about basketball, techniques, schemes and strategies. It’s difficult to go against your own brother.
“You have all that going into it, which was there last year. But then add on this benefit – she’s near and dear to our heart and the family.”
Amy finished chemotherapy about one month ago and is going through 10 weeks of radiation. The hope after is that all the cancer cells are killed and out of her body.
“Just to see the swell of support for Amy, it was certainly touching,” Shaw said. “There’s some things that go beyond the game, beyond basketball. I think that’s good for kids to see that, for the players to be a part of that. As well as the adults and people in the stands, who probably have a little better prospective on life, but it’s good for everybody to just get behind a cause and support a wonderful lady. I haven’t been a part of something this emotional as it was prior to the game, but looking back, boy it was a good memory.”
People could either make donations or buy pink shirts, bandanas or glow sticks. Gift baskets were also donated to help raise money.
Each team and its coaches wore pink tops in warmups, and afterward they all gathered around Amy and the family’s four children for a group picture.
South’s Dylan Timm, who finished with nine points, said the Fox River Classic Conference game was emotional.
“Because it was more than a game,” Timm said. “It was for a better cause. The whole gym was pinked out. It was just a cool scene. It was a fun game to play because you knew while you were playing that other stuff was happening to raise money for her. … I’m glad the money went to her and her cause. She deserves it. She’s a fighter.”
Timm, who doesn’t know Amy, was approached by her a few days later at a youth tournament at South.
“She came up to me and was all grateful,” Timm said. “She’s like, ‘the game was so fun. Thank you guys so much.’”
Donations can be made to Amy Shaw at 134 E. Glenbrook Dr., Pulaski (54162).