Austin Peay is playing in Des Moines Thursday and coach Dave Loos’ 5-year-old granddaughter is battling bone cancer. Her father, Ben, is an assistant coach at Missouri.
Here’s the touching comments Dave Loos shared about her Wednesday:
Q. Coach, first of all, when is the last time that you saw your granddaughter and what has her story, combined with what your team has been able to do, what’s that been like for you as both a coach and as a grandfather?
DAVE LOOS: Last time I saw her was on TV during an interview on Saturday, which was a thrill. I had no idea that was going to happen. As a matter of fact, when I saw my son’s image on the screen and then Rhyan’s, I thought I was going to have a tough time making it through that. But we made it, and it was terrific to see them. The whole thing has been tough, but inspiring, because, first of all, the way they have approached this thing and dealt with it, very positively. My son said from the beginning anybody that’s going to be around her better have a smile on their face, and that’s the way it’s been. They’ve moved forward and they’ve been positive with it.
The other thing that’s been so inspiring is the support that they’ve gotten and our entire family has gotten, not only in the University of Missouri community but in Tennessee and with the Austin Peay community.
Now this thing, because of people like yourselves has caught on somewhat nationally, so that’s comforting to know that you’ve got the positive thoughts, prayers, contributions. The other thing is it’s raised a lot of awareness about pediatric cancer and the need for more research in those areas, so it’s been good.
Q. Going back to Rhyan, are you able to talk to your son or her much? I know she is still going through treatment in New York. How did you balance the emotions of that over the season?
DAVE LOOS: Well, I do talk to him a lot. My wife talks to them a lot, either over the phone or text, you know, whatever. My conversations with Brad are not only about Rhyan and what’s going on there, but I think it helps him occasionally to talk basketball. So I think sometimes my wife might get a little jealous because I might get an extra call here and there, but it’s usually about basketball, and I think that’s helpful.
Basketball has helped me. Rhyan’s situation is the last thing you think about at night before you go to bed and the first thing you think about in the morning. Being able to coach and be involved with these guys is somewhat of an escape now and then from it. It’s probably benefited, and I think I really tip my cap to Jen, his wife, because she has probably not been more than 10 yards away from Rhyan through this whole ordeal and really doesn’t have that escape that we have, for lack of a better term, I guess.