For her dedication, commitment and courageous spirit, Appalachian State University women’s basketball head coach Angel Elderkin is a recipient of the 2017 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award, as announced on Thursday by the USBWA.
For the first time in the history of the award, the USBWA has chosen two very deserving recipients as ESPN reporter Holly Rowe will join Coach Elderkin as an award winner. Like coach Elderkin, Rowe has been in an ongoing battle with the deadly disease, but has continued to do what she loves while fighting it.
Named after legendary Tennessee Head Coach Pat Summitt in 2012, the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award honors individuals associated with women’s college basketball.
“This award is extra special to me because of its connection to Pat (Summitt),” Elderkin mentioned. “I was lucky enough to to work with her and see what an amazing woman, coach and mother she was. She made such an impact on me and what I learned from her still impacts me every day.”
Coach Elderkin epitomizes what the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award stands for. Elderkin was diagnosed with Stage III Endometrial Cancer during the summer, but continued to coach the Mountaineers. All of the visible cancer was removed through surgery, but Coach Elderkin still had to complete a rigorous treatment plan before the season started. This plan included six chemotherapy treatment cycles & a period of radiation, which required her to be at the Lineberger Cancer Center five days a week. During her chemo treatments, she would commute from Chapel Hill, N.C. for treatments to Boone, N.C. to continue being with the team for practices. During her radiation treatment, she would leave Monday after a morning workout and return Friday for an afternoon workout, rarely missing any workouts or events with her players. She remained visible to her players throughout one of the toughest battles she ever had to fight.
Heading into Thursday’s contest against UT Arlington, coach Elderkin has yet to miss a game this season, including five-straight road games to start the season. Following her final chemo treatment, the Mountaineers began a stretch of two games in four days on the road.
Coach Elderkin’s will to fight, her courage and bravery has inspired the Mountaineers’ staff, fan base and countless coaches and players across the nation. Her passion for basketball and the will to coach through adversity shows you can do what you love while battling this deadly disease.
“When I was given my diagnosis, I knew that I had only one choice — and that was to fight with everything I have to give,” said Elderkin. “I have received so much support from the entire women’s basketball community, and it has made such a difference as I continue to fight and beat this disease. I am so thankful to the USBWA, not only for this recognition, but for the support of its members over the last six months. Women’s basketball is truly a community and I am thankful to be part of it.”
Coach Elderkin and Rowe will receive their awards at USBWA Awards press conference at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Dallas in March.
“Coach Angel deserves this award because she exudes courage. To have courage means to face obstacles head on even if you are afraid. Taking on a bunch of young women she hadn’t recruited for her basketball team and wanting to better them is courageous. Fighting an illness that she has no complete control over and still giving us 100% is brave. She inspires me to love others regardless of outcomes, regardless of whether or not they can do things for me. She inspires me to be a better version of myself by being selfless. When I see others down, I make an effort to lift them up. When I see someone struggling, I make an effort to go the extra mile to give them my hand. Coach Elderkin is shining a light in my world.” – Senior forward Bria Carter
“She’s one of the few coaches in my career that cares about her players as people outside of basketball. It’s more than just a business to her; this is her life. That fact that she was diagnosed with cancer and immediately asked the doctor if her treatments would interfere with practice exhibits the bravery she shows. She’s the strongest coach I have ever had, and there’s no one else who deserves this more. She’s the very epitome of her name. Our Angel! “ – Senior guard Jasmine Ogunjimi
“Coach Angel deserves this award because she is one of the most selfless coaches I have played for. She always puts the team first and in dealing with her health this past summer, she never once let her team down. She always kept us first, almost to the point where we had to ask her to focus on her health. Coach Angel deserves this award because she has fought this battle and WON! She always brings passion and energy to the court and never lets up on the team. Out of anybody in my life or I have come across, I can’t think of a better recipient for this award.” -Senior forward Ashley Bassett-Smith
“Courage is what she has shown throughout her battle with cancer. There has not been a day that I have seen where she has let this adversity from being the loving coach, mentor, leader, and friend that she is. I have learned that serving others is one of the strongest forms of courage and to do so willingly and out of love is incredible. Her name fits her perfectly because she is truly an angel to those of us who have been blessed to know her. The Pat Summitt Courage Award will be represented substantially by a person who I consider one of the most courageous people I know.” – Senior guard Joi Jones
“Coach Angel is one of the strongest people I know. She has sacrificed her time, sleep and even her health for the benefits of the team. She has made a home for us at App; somewhere we feel comfortable both on and off the court. At the end of the day, no matter the outcome, I know she loves her team and would do anything for us to be successful. Coach Elderkin is more than deserving of this award. Thank you for everything Coach Angel” – Senior forward Mia Marshall