In many ways, Saturday is the biggest day of the season for the Ragin’ Cajuns women’s basketball team.
On the basketball side, coach Garry Brodhead’s squad has lost four in a row and wants to get a win in the 2 p.m. game against Georgia Southern at the Cajundome.
Of the court, more important issues will be addressed with the second Andrea Brodhead Foundation Cancer Walk.
Registration for the charity walk will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Cajundome, near the tunnel that connects to the Cajun Field parking lot.
A $10 donation will earn participation in the one-mile walk, as well as a t-shirt and a ticket to the game.
A $5 donation will get a t-shirt and the walk.
All cancer survivors will walk free of charge.
At 10 a.m., Garry Brodhead will give some opening remarks before the walk gets underway at 11 a.m. It’s scheduled to end at about noon.
Brodhead said anyone interested only needs to show up before 11 a.m. to participate.
At 1 p.m., all participating will enjoy a meet and greet with the team.
And the final pregame activity for the team will be to hear the stories of the cancer survivors in attendance.
“It’s awesome,” Brodhead said. “I wish everybody could be in the locker room to hear the stories of the survivors. Our players get so much out of it. They listen to their stories.
“It’s always, ‘Woe is me a lot of times. I’m having a bad day,’ and then to listen to them and it’s their days to come in and share it with us. It was like that at McNeese too. There wasn’t a dry eye in the locker room.”
Survivors will join the team in the pregame introductions as well.
Andrea Brodhead died of breast cancer on Sept. 10, 2015. The foundation is to establish a scholarship for a UL student affected by cancer.
Coupled with the opening of UL’s first baseball season without coach Tony Robichaux in 26 years, Brodhead has been especially emotional this week.
“For me, I’ve been blessed,” said Brodhead, who recalled an encouraging conversation with Robichaux before Andrea’s death.
“He grabbed me one morning and told me how important it was for us to be here at this university, because we wouldn’t be able to coach and do what we love and still be able to take care of family at the same time,” Brodhead said. “That’s always stuck in my mind that this community is special. It doesn’t have to be about cancer. It could be any issue in this community and people will rise up — or as Tony used to say 'stand up,' they do stand up.”
Brodhead knows firsthand what that encouragement can mean.
“For me, that’s what I saw,” he said. “I saw a lot of my friends, family and community stand up and help me get through it. It made it special to have that kind word. It’s amazing. Some people don’t want to talk about it. I’m the opposite. I’d rather talk about it and get through it.
“There’s so many people that were calling me and concerned about my program. It’s just a blessing to be here.”
Brodhead’s specific passion is fighting breast cancer, but he says it’s bigger than that.
“It’s just a special day to a special community,” Brodhead said. “Can we grow this thing to get more awareness, not just breast cancer?
“To me, it’s just the awareness on how we can try to fight this disease. One day, we can get up here and say, ‘Hey, we finally cure this, or we have a cure that’s helping people live longer and better lives.’”