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The Journal Gazette

  • Versyp

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 1:00 am

Cancer bout changes Purdue coach's view

No longer sweating small things after returning to work

MIKE CARMIN | Journal & Courier, Lafayette

WEST LAFAYETTE – Two words.

That's all Sharon Versyp needed to hear.

“Cancer free,” the veteran coach of the Purdue women's basketball program said.

That was April 24.

More than two months later, Versyp is back in her office and overseeing her daily duties. She actually returned to work May 30. She's been pushing forward in recruiting, conducting summer camps and preparing the Boilermakers during individual and team workouts for the upcoming season.

“When you get that news, you feel great, no matter what,” Ver­syp said.

She's not 100 percent yet but working toward that number. A checkup at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York in August is another step in the process.

She's strong enough to hit the recruiting trail this month, the summer's busiest time for college coaches. Traveling from city to city, sitting in gymnasiums watching prospects.

“I have no limitations,” Versyp said. “They told me to go back to my normal things but listen to your body.”

She did earlier this year.

In March, Versyp was diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer. The early diagnosis was key. It was treatable. Versyp put together a plan to deal with her situation while coaching Purdue through the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.

She held off telling her team until after the Big Ten Tournament, where the Boilermakers won three games before losing to Maryland in the championship. Purdue advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, losing at Notre Dame in overtime.

The timing of her diagnosis and the end of the season gave Versyp a moment to take stock. She has watched others close to her deal with different forms of cancer.

Versyp probably won't change as a person or a coach, but her outlook has been altered.

“When it happens to you, absolutely, it's going to have an impact,” she said. “I've changed as I've matured and gone through different things. When it happens to you, you sit back and understand what's important and hopefully, I'll live with it every day, and it will always shape my life.”

The little things don't matter now, Versyp said, but that's easy for a coach to say during the summer. She's planning to stick to those words, even when the Boilermakers are in the middle of the 2017-18 season.

“You always say that, but when you face the circumstances that I've gone though, you can't sweat the small stuff,” she said. “Life is too short. It's not the end all if things aren't going great.”

Just being back around her program has helped Versyp in the recovery process.

She's the one usually bringing the energy to her players. Now, the opposite is happening.

“They've been wonderful,” she said. “Just being around the young people and their energy, being excited and seeing their faces, just the reaction to me, that's been amazing. I think I'll be able to feed off that for a long, long time.”