ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) –Current Boylan assistant basketball coach Gordy Kasper has game-planned for a lot of opponents during his coaching career, but he’s never had an opponent as challenging as the one he’s battled for the past year and a half.
You’d never know it from watching Kasper on the Boylan bench at a game a couple weeks ago, but he’s been through a journey with Colon cancer. It started in August of 2020.
“It was a challenge,” said Kasper. “We had three trips to the emergency room that were very difficult.”
Kasper went through chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The big moment came two months ago when his tumors were removed.
“I had the surgery November third. It was a six-hour surgery, and the great news out of it is our doctors at the University of Wisconsin came back and said I have no evidence of disease.”
How serious was the cancer?
“We never did find out what stage, and I really compliment my doctor Dr. Dusty Deming up at Wisconsin on that. His thing was your job is to show up on time and to be positive. It was serious, but we were able to, the best way to put it is my cancer marker number was 44 at the beginning. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I think it’s probably bad because when I went through half of my rough chemo, I got it all the way down to three, and he said that was remarkable.”
What else is remarkable is Kasper missed very few games or practices in the brief Covid season last February and March while receiving treatment. He wanted to be there for the Titans.
“It’s incredible. I don’t think people know how long this has gone on,” said Boylan head coach Brett McAllister. “It was before the beginning of last season where he really started treatments. For him to miss two days and still be around us, it’s hard to get down on anything that you’re going through individually when you’ve got a guy sitting there who is giving everything he has to the program despite what he’s going through health-wise.”
McAllister says one thing Kasper has always brought to the Titans is toughness.
“There’s a certain way our kids need to play with mental and physical toughness. He preaches that message to the kids all the time.”
Boylan’s players have drawn inspiration from the way Kasper has approached his situation. “It just sends a message of perseverance, you know,” said senior Joey Appino. We’re working hard out here, and he’s got his own battle, and he still shows up, and he’s here as often as he can be.”
But even the guy who preaches toughness and exhibits toughness needed some words of encouragement to help him deal with cancer.
“I have worked for Mike Miller (current Hononegah head coach) and Steve Goers (former Boylan head coach) previously and those two especially have really reached out to me and flat-out given me pep talks,” said Kasper. “I remember Mills (Miller) giving me a pep talk on leaning on sports and using that as a way to say, ‘Okay cancer is the opponent, it’s not Moline tonight. We need to figure out what we need to do to beat them’, so it’s been great.”
Kasper got another surprising show of support on Friday, December third when all of the coaches in the NIC-10 at their games wore T-shirts that read “Team Kasper” on the front.
“It’s really blown me away as to how much people have reached out to me, my wife Aimee and our daughters to help us out through this, from the T-shirts to the Go Fund Me, and to all the meals that the community has brought out, so it’s been neat.”
Kasper says he signed up for as a case study for some fairly, new cancer treatment medicine that he was given, and he hopes what the medical community learned from that study will help people in the future who have cancer.
Right now Kasper is doing great. He had one more small procedure this past Thursday to wrap things up. He hopes to be back teaching at Riverdahl, and he hopes to be back on the Boylan bench again very soon.