Oct. 17, 2015
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
Alumni Weekend is supposed to be a time for reminiscing and having a laugh about “the good old days.”
There will be plenty of that this weekend at Mewborn Field, but for Georgia Tech Softball alumni and current Jackets, Sunday also will be about something a lot more serious.
It will be about remembering what might have been and, in one case, thankfully what was not.
Georgia Tech Softball will hold its annual Pink Day doubleheader Sunday afternoon against Spartanburg Methodist (the games are scheduled for 3 and 5 p.m. — there also will be an Alumni Game at 11 a.m.).
This Pink Day will hold extra special meaning for the Georgia Tech family, as the team will recognize former Jacket Amy Hosier, who played the outfield from 2003 through 2006, but, more important, is a breast cancer survivor.
“Breast cancer hits home to our softball family, obviously, with Sam Pierannunzi’s mom and Megan Vonderhaar’s mom from last year,” said Head Coach Shelly Hoerner. “It’s a great way to promote breast cancer awareness.”
“We’re helping bring awareness to the Atlanta area and to Georgia Tech,” added Assistant Coach Erin Wright, who was instrumental in setting up the event and whose mom also is a breast cancer survivor. “Just showing that we support it, any form we can do to bring the awareness to it and then raise a good amount of funds to help support that.”
Hosier will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Sunday.
It’s a happy homecoming that nearly wasn’t.
Amy was a four-year player, a three-year starter, and two-time All-ACC First-Teamer (2005, ‘06), who helped the Jackets win the 2005 ACC regular season and Tournament Championships (she was on All-ACC Tournament teams in ‘05 and ‘06). But in November, 2011, only five years after graduating, at age 27, she was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer.
She underwent a double mastectomy and had 18 lymph nodes removed from her left armpit, 15 of those being cancerous. The operation prevented the cancer from spreading and saved her life, but the fight wasn’t over. She’d go through 17 rounds of chemotherapy beginning in January, 2012, then had two months of radiation treatment.
She’s been cancer-free for four years.
While Sunday is an opportunity for Tech alumni, including several teammates, among them ‘15 Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Jessica Cole, to relish the opportunity to welcome Hosier back, it’s an important learning opportunity for the current team to talk with Hosier about her ordeal and her bravery in fighting it.
”Having a former Jacket diagnosed and fighting this disease, it hits home even harder,” said Hoerner. “She’s coming in for Alumni Weekend I thought this would be a great way to recognize her. I think it will be a great event and really help the girls understand what it’s really about in not taking for granted on an everyday basis.”
“It just shows you how close to home that breast cancer can hit,” said Wright. “I can’t wait for the girls, especially the freshmen, that have not met her to meet her. I don’t really know the last time she was back but we’re so excited that she’s coming back on campus.”
Senior outfielder Morgan Taylor already knows about how close breast cancer can hit. She’s close with Jeannie Pierannunzi, Sam’s mom, and second baseman Maddie Lionberger, whose grandmother, Jean Hollingsworth, is in the midsts of the fight. Taylor is looking forward to meeting Hosier.
“I’m excited to be able to talk to her and express our gratitude for what she’s done for our program and how she is a strong hero to be able to overcome breast cancer,” she said. “Knowing Sam’s mom, and just knowing that she has this positivity and light about her after going through such a hardship, it really does hit home because you know how much that affected their family. Yet they come out and are so nice and so positive and loving. It really just puts things in perspective.”
That lesson in perspective is one that the Coaches hope will be a lasting one, but there also is a more inspirational one.
“I think our players will be amazed at who Amy is and the perseverance that she has,” said Hoerner. “That will definitely help our players not only on the field but in the real world, understanding that you’ve got to be a fighter. Tech people are fighters. They’re hard-workers, they’re successful but knowing that [Hosier] persevered with having this and, obviously, her coming out and supporting US is important.”
Wright feels it’s important for the team to realize that the support they’re showing the cause by what they’re doing on Pink Day has far-reaching repercussions.
“You don’t really realize it until you have someone go through it. For the girls, hopefully they never will go through it with a family member,” said Wright. “It’s amazing just to have the people that are surrounding you, that you care so much about, just to have them come forth and give effort and give funds to help spread the word about breast cancer. Hopefully we can find a cure.
“I was online the other day and I saw a travel team, was trying to get together to help promote breast cancer awareness,” she added. “You’re not just seeing it every so often. You’re seeing it throughout the year. You’re seeing it at different sporting events, at different events. You’re seeing it everywhere. It’s great.”
For more information on the Susan G. Komen Foundation to help fight breast cancer and fund research and awareness please visit http://ww5.komen.org.