Former Lady Gamecock-turned Boiling Springs coach talks cancer, - FOX Carolina 21

Former Lady Gamecock-turned Boiling Springs coach talks cancer, college basketball

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Coach Sheila Foster, first woman to have her Gamecocks jersey retired, coaches at Boiling Springs High School (FOX Carolina) Coach Sheila Foster, first woman to have her Gamecocks jersey retired, coaches at Boiling Springs High School (FOX Carolina)
Foster holds the record at USC for most points scored in a basketball career there (Courtesy: Sheila Foster) Foster holds the record at USC for most points scored in a basketball career there (Courtesy: Sheila Foster)
BOILING SPRINGS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Coach Sheila Foster is considered a legend. Just ask her Junior Varsity girls basketball team, who watch mesmerized as she imparts the wisdom of the game.

"As Bulldogs, we guard our yard," she exclaims as she talks about defense on the court. Foster graduated from Boiling Springs High School in 1978 and went on to play basketball for the Lady Gamecocks. According to the stats, she holds the record for most points scored during a college career at the school - more than 2,000. She was also inducted into the USC Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, and was the first woman to have her jersey retired. 

Her lucky number: 53.

"I don't brag on myself," she said. "I let other people do the bragging and talking, and it makes me feel good," she said with a laugh. She's extremely proud of her basketball career. 

Now, she's even prouder of her Lady Gamecocks as they advance to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. 

"When Carolina girls play," she said "I'm like, 'get them hands off them knees, that's lazy defense!'" Foster said she likes to coach from the bleachers and fights the urge to get on the court when she sees her Lady Gamecocks play. 

She said the game of basketball, with its lessons on endurance and aggressiveness, taught her how to win her most brutal competition yet: breast cancer.

"I lost all my hair," she recalled. "People used to say 'Can I help you, sir?' That used to really, really bother me." 

"It took me for a loop when I first found out about the cancer," said Foster. "I've never been hurt, never sat out of no games or nothing. How, Lord? I was so active, I played. You know, this disease don't discriminate," she said. 

Foster is now in remission, and continues to hope she will soon be pronounced cancer-free. She hands out pink buttons with her jersey number on the to people she meets.

"Now, you're in my prayer circle," she said with a smile. "Can't break no prayer circle."

She said her Lady Gamecocks' success in the NCAA tournament has been good for her health and her soul. 

But, she said, "it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings." She said she hopes they'll continue on and use each practice and game as if it were their last. 

Perseverance is something she hopes to instill in her JV girls' basketball team at BSHS, too. 

"Now, when people say 'can I help you, sir?' you know what I do? I just smile and say 'you know what? I am a beautiful lady battling breast cancer, and I am beating that thing," said Foster triumphantly. 

She hopes her Gamecocks and her Boiling Springs Bulldogs will win like she has. 

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