Written By: Alyssa Willetts
On March 31st, the Oklahoma Wesleyan Lady Eagles softball team hosted the Sterling College Warriors in a double header honoring those battling breast cancer. Every year OKWU softball has a Breast Cancer Awareness game, but this time around meant so much more. This season, the Lady Eagles softball team had a raffle to raise funds for York College head coach Roni Miller who received her diagnosis earlier this year.
Caty Reeves, head softball coach for the Lady Eagles, is a close friend of Roni Miller and said, “When I found out about Coach Miller’s diagnosis, I knew I wanted to give the funds to her directly and be of any support we could.” The raffle consisted of 34 different prizes, thanks to donations from local businesses, and it was a huge success. York head coach Roni Miller said, “When Coach Reeves contacted me to tell me what she was doing, I cried. Caty has been a huge support to me. We both began coaching in the KCAC [Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference] at the same time, and we’ve always been there for each other.”
Coach Miller said she has been “overwhelmed with support” from her community and everyone in the KCAC since the diagnosis. “I was so thankful when I realized all that the team was doing for me. I’ve gotten to know quite a few of the OKWU players, and I am just so blessed by their support.”
Roni Miller is not only a college softball coach, but a wife and mother to two little girls, ages 6 and 8. She confesses, “Just figuring out how to coach and be a wife and mom is usually stress enough.” She had two surgeries in February and just finished her 20th radiation treatment. Coach Miller says she still has 13 more treatments to go and admits there have been both really good and really bad days.
The KCAC is a very competitive conference, and, while every team wants to win, this season has been dedicated to something bigger than softball. Coach Miller says, “The KCAC has concentrated on love this season: love for me and my family… and they’ve inspired me to keep fighting. I am truly grateful for everything and everyone.”
With pink ribbons in their hair, the Lady Eagles shutout the Sterling College Warriors 9-0 in Game 1, and only lost by 3 in Game 2. OKWU Coach Reeves was pleased with the way her team played in the first game, but admits they lost momentum in the second. After the game, Coach Reeves made sure to talk about gratitude. “Regardless of how the games end up, we needed to be thankful for our health, especially on a day where we honored those going through this battle with breast cancer.”
Freshman Ashley Stone had a standout game that Saturday, responsible for nearly half the runs in Game 1. After her performance, Ashley was awarded the KCAC Player of the Week. She is currently leading the KCAC in batting average, runs batted in, and home runs. She said this game was special because breast cancer is a subject near to her. “My aunt battled breast cancer three times and came out on top, but she unfortunately lost her fight to breast cancer the fourth time around.” Ashley made the most of this opportunity to honor all of the women who have fought and are still fighting.
Coach Reeves was very proud of Ashley’s performance and said, “She is a fun person to watch play the game because she has a lot of joy in it and challenges herself to do whatever she can for the team.” In her first season, Ashley Stone has felt like she is part of one “big happy family” being on the OKWU softball team. The season is nearing its end, and Coach Reeves said this about the goal for her team: “We are focused on playing our best ball at the end of the season and everyone playing a part in it. If we continue on the path we are now, I think we will be in great shape.”