Prep Softball: Coaching after cancer

Prep Softball: Coaching after cancer

PHILOMATH, Ore. - Before a big game, second year head coach Stephanie Kerst sets the lineup and goes over the game plan with her team.

"Focus for all 7 innings, all 3 outs," Kerst tells the team.

She thinks her Philomath Warriors are prepared for anything that's thrown its way.

But just 8 months ago, 36-year-old Kerst was hit with something she never saw coming. On Sept. 10, 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I was scared to death," says Kerst. "I found out at a quarter to 5. My husband wasn't home. My doctor called me and told me what it was. You start crying and the whole thing."

On Oct. 5, Kerst had a double mastectomy. Two months later, she began four rounds of chemotherapy.

"I started chemo Dec. 9, and I was done with chemo Feb. 9," says Kerst. "Then practice started Feb. 28. My whole plan was to get ready for this."

Kerst said at times she wanted to quit, but with the help of Philomath's athletic director and a non-profit organization called Project H.E.R., Kerst was able to battle through the grueling process.

"When you get out of bed in the morning," says an emotional Kerst, "you have a choice to make, is it a good day or a bad day. I really try to make them all good because you don't know when you're going to get hit with something that will change your whole life."

Kerst's tenacity and no-quit attitude has set an example for her players.

"She definitely taught our team that we have to work hard and push through a lot of the things we're going through," says senior Jessaka Stueve.

While Kerst inspired her team and taught them a lesson, it was her team that movtivated her to keep on fighting.

"For me, it keeps me going. I mean, it's the reason I'm here. I guess, I mean, yeah, this is fun."