Special Moments During a A Long Season
(St. Louis, MO) – While Missouri Valley Conference teams are battling for conference supremacy and competing for wins, there are some special moments that contribute to the competition and at the same time has nothing to do with it.
Legendary Missouri State women’s basketball player Jackie Stiles is battling cancer. The Valley’s all-time leading scorer and namesake of the conference’s ‘Player of the Year’ award is undergoing treatment for life threatening ocular melanoma.
Recently, when Southern Illinois’ men’s team visited Missouri State (January 27), current head coach and former Missouri State leader, Barry Hinson thought it would important to honor Stiles and express his support for the Valley legend.
Hinson’s team wore warmup shirts with Stiles name and number (10) on the back. The veteran Valley coach patrolled the Bears’ sidelines during Stiles’ career in Springfield, Missouri so the choice to stand with Stiles was personally important.
Stiles, now an assistant coach with the Lady Bears returned to the MSU bench for this past Sunday’s win over Illinois State after missing several games during cancer treatment on her left eye.
Meanwhile, the iconic Sr. Jean Deloris Schmidt, Loyola’s team chaplain has been missing games for her own health reasons. The 96-year-old nun has continued to watch games and send her post game e-mails to the team.
When Sr. Jean returned for the Ramblers’ recent game with Missouri State, the players and coaches were excited to see her at Gentile Arena. Head coach Porter Moser says he and the players were pumped up to have their friend back in the house. Moser says the players were surprised by her appearance.
One of the things that follows after energetic, winning teams is a growing and energetic fan base. During Loyola’s non-conference schedule the Ramblers’ average attendance was 1,883, with a high water mark of 3,024 against cross-town rival Illinois-Chicago. Even through the team’s first two conference games the attendance numbers weren’t budging.
However, over the last five games the Ramblers (21-5, 11-3) are averaging 2,861, with a high water mark of 3,592 for that game with the Bears. Gentile Arena is getting loud and Moser says he’s excited for the students and for the players, because their college experience is becoming more enjoyable.
First place Loyola and second place SIU (17-10, 9-5) play one another in Carbondale on February 21.