Coaching life

Posted: February 1, 2012 at 11:45 am


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Coaching life

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

She is as competitive as they come. Always has been. Always will be.

That's what growing up in a house with eight older brothers can do for you.

Rose McFarland, and everyone close to her, hopes that will to win and survive can help her beat her latest opponent -- cancer.

McFarland said thanks to the support and prayers from many, including the youth basketball team she coaches with her husband, Galen, she plans to be a mainstay in the stands once these players reach junior high and high school.

McFarland was diagnosed with uterine and ovarian cancer in November. After undergoing surgery later that month, she began chemotherapy treatments that take her several days to recover from.

But the setback hasn't stopped her from trying to lead a normal life.

A multi-sport athlete while growing up in Lenora in the 1970s, McFarland played basketball at Cloud County Community College in Concordia, then at St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City. And she never was one to miss games or practices.

Although the effects of her chemo treatments have kept her out of some practices, McFarland hasn't missed a single game coaching her Hays Hoopsters sixth-grade boys' team.

That could change Saturday when the Hoopsters take part in a tournament in Norton.

It normally takes McFarland three or four days to recuperate from her chemo treatments, which she undergoes every three weeks, and her next scheduled treatment Wednesday in Kansas City, Kan.

Basketball therapy

"If I can go, I will," McFarland said, adding watching her son, David, and his teammates play basketball has been good therapy.

David's 12th birthday also happens to be Saturday. But, McFarland said, David knows his mom will be there in spirit even if she isn't able to make the trip.

"My main goal is to stay healthy right now. If I can't go, Galen will be there with them, and Kent (Werth) helps out, too," McFarland added about one of the team members' parents.

Other than feeling sluggish after she started chemo, McFarland said what she noticed the most was her hair falling out.

"It was coming out in bunches," said McFarland, who had her husband get out the clippers and cut it close to her scalp.

In support of their coach, the Hoopsters decided to do the same.

A couple of the parents of the players came up with the idea one day and asked the boys how they felt about it.

Some didn't give it a second thought.

"I've had mine this short before," Palmer Hutchison piped up.

Others weren't quite so sure.

"I didn't know at first," Cole Zimmerman, who said he never had his head buzzed that close before, said with a big grin.

"And Hunter was nervous," one of the players said about another team member, Hunter Brown.

"I was pretty nervous when I got mine cut off, too," McFarland admitted.

In the end, all 10 players bought into the idea.

"If one wouldn't have wanted to do it, we wouldn't have," Werth said.

Hoopsters 'all in'

So one Friday evening earlier this month, the Hoopsters gathered at the Werth home for a pizza party, and one of the mothers buzzed all the team members' heads before McFarland came to pick up her son.

"They had so much fun with it," Werth said. "And even some of the younger brothers wanted their hair cut, too."

Carrying a little lighter load, the Hoopsters went out the next couple of days and lost just one game en route to a third-place finish at the perennially tough Great Bend Tournament.

The McFarlands both have coached at the high school level, and Rose has college coaching experience, too. They stress fundamentals in their winter instructional camps they have run since David, their only child, was in first grade.

The McFarlands also hope the youngsters have fun while learning about basketball -- and other things as well.

McFarland said she believes she gets just as much in return.

"I just love coaching, at any level," McFarland said. "And things like this, you never forget. When they all came marching in one by one with their hair cut, and I realized they all had done it, I got really choked up."

"She thought it was pretty neat," Galen McFarland said, "that the kids would do that for her."

"All the prayers and support mean so much," added Rose, who expects to complete her chemotherapy treatments in April.

Lifetime memories

Werth said their coach's illness has brought the team closer together.

"These kids will remember shaving their heads more than games they won or lost," Werth said.

McFarland agreed, saying how much she appreciates all the contact from former coaches, players and acquaintances since learning of her illness.

"What's neat is that I've just met so many people through playing and coaching," she said. "Hopefully, these guys will, too. It's fun to see the kids progress, but also the bonds they've created.

"And," she added, "we all learn a few life lessons along the way."

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Coaching life

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February 1st, 2012 at 11:45 am

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