Annual cancer awareness game will take on special significance for coach, team

Annual cancer awareness game will take on special significance for coach, team
Jeff Gard

Coaches vs. Cancer’s Suits and Sneakers Awareness Week, an annual event among college basketball teams promoting cancer awareness, will hold special significance for University of Wisconsin-Platteville head basketball coach Jeff Gard this year.

That’s because his dad, Glen Gard, died of glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor, in the fall of 2015.

Players said Glen Gard was a constant presence at UW-Platteville Pioneers home and away games, lending support to players and giving them advice.

“He was a loving guy. He was at all our games. He had a positive outlook on life, which I definitely carry into my life, and he’s definitely rubbed that off on me,” senior point guard Peyton River said.

Coaches across the country, including Gard, will wear sneakers with their suits to raise awareness for cancer. But the Pioneers will take this gesture a step further, wearing gray-colored jerseys to honor Glen Gard’s struggle with brain cancer.

“[Gray] is a symbolic color of brain cancer, so it’s extra special to us that we get to put on the grey jersey, not only representing brain cancer but Platteville basketball,” River said.

Team members said they’re giving back to a man who gave them so much.

“He was just awesome to be around,” junior forward Corey Vaassen said. “It’s not just because his son was the coach, he supported us all the time. He went to all of our away games, all of our home games whenever he could.”

Gard said his team’s support helped him during his father’s battle with cancer, as well as when he died.

“They were there from day one, when the diagnosis came out,” Gard said. “I think having that type of support, an extended family is what I call it, was so great.”

UW-Platteville’s “Suits and Sneakers” game is Saturday at 7 p.m. at home versus UW-La Crosse.

To learn more about the Coaches vs. Cancer program and how you can support it, go online.