Betsy Shovlain usually prefers to sit in the stands and watch her husband, St. Ambrose men's basketball coach Ray Shovlain, work his magic with the NAIA's 15th-rated college team.
But today, the coach's wife will join the St. Ambrose women's team on the court prior to its 1 p.m. game against No. 10 Grand View to help raise awareness for breast cancer research.
Betsy Shovlain will serve as the honorary coach for the Queen Bees in today's Midwest Collegiate Conference game, nearly two months after undergoing her final successful radiation treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
"She's my champion," said Ray Shovlain, now in his 29th season as the Fighting Bees' coach. "Health is one of those things that so many of us take for granted until something hits home. We are so appreciative of the support we've received from family and friends."
That's one of the reasons Betsy Shovlain agreed to serve as an honorary coach today.
"People need to understand the importance of getting tested regularly. Hopefully, I can help people understand that," she said. "I had a mammogram in 2008 that was totally normal. I should have been tested again on a regular basis, but like a lot of people, I didn't get that done. I was experiencing some discomfort, and I was overdue for a test when I finally went in."
That was nearly a year ago and that test led to a March 16 diagnosis of breast cancer.
At the advice of her sister, a nurse, Shovlain sought treatment at the Mayo Clinic where she had radiation treatments and underwent 13 sessions of chemotherapy over a five-week period preceding a bilateral mastectomy in October.
Her husband was joined by family members in helping shuttle her back and forth to Minnesota, where she spent weekdays for five weeks and returned home to the Quad-Cities on the weekends.
"The talent and ability of the people there is incredible, and the personal service she received at Mayo was unbelievable," Ray Shovlain said. "From the prayers to their work, we got through everything."
Betsy Shovlain underwent her final radiation treatment on Dec. 9 and by early January, she returned to her job as an admissions assistant at Davenport Assumption High School.
"I'm glad to be back at work," Shovlain said. "Things are getting back to as normal as they ever get, and I'm so thankful for all of the support from Assumption, St. Ambrose, our parish. People have been so kind with their prayers and their assistance. It's a situation that has drawn our family closer together."
Shovlain will be recognized prior to today's game and true to form, she then plans to step out of the limelight.
"Ray wanted to know if I had any plays ready to call, but I'll leave that to him," she said.
She plans to watch the rest of the game from the stands on Play 4 Kay Day at St. Ambrose, a national program among college women's basketball programs named after Kay Yow.
Locally, St. Ambrose will donate ticket proceeds as well as funds from T-shirt sales, a 50-50 raffle and take donations for the Kramer Society of the Quad-Cities. The organization of local women is dedicated to breast health and support of breast cancer survivors.
The Queen Bees will wear pink warm-up T-shirts and pink shoelaces to show their support.