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Clare Droesch completed one of her life’s dreams a year after she wasn’t sure if she would live at all.
Last winter, the 30-year-old former Christ the King and Boston College basketball star was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. To add to that, she later saw her home take major damage during Hurricane Sandy, creating a 2012 to forget.
Like everything else she has done in her life, Droesch battled and won.
“No one expected me to be where I am, even my doctors,” Droesch said.
She still has to go for chemotherapy every three weeks for the rest of her life to keep the cancer under control. Droesch was healthy enough to join Christ the King as the junior varsity head coach and a varsity assistant this season. Her players over the last year have kept her going.
“It’s rough some days and definitely not easy,” she said. “I still do it because I have to.”
When the job opened in the fall, Droesch was a no-brainer for varsity head man Bob Mackey, who coached her at Christ the King and used to live a few blocks away from her in the Rockaways. It was an opportunity Droesch had dreamed of during her coaching stops, most recently as an assistant at St. Edmund Prep in Brooklyn. Before that she was at Scholars Academy in Rockaway and St. John’s University.
Droesch said it was hard to leave St. Edmund after the support the school showed her, but it wasn’t Christ the King. It wasn’t home.
“It just felt so right,” Droesch said.
Mackey is happy to have her back. He had to pause and fight back some emotion when asked what he thinks about when he sees Droesch dressed in Royals gear on the sideline, knowing what’s she’s been through.
“Every time she walks in the gym, every time she steps on the floor, it’s just nothing short of miraculous,” Mackey said.
To the players, she is a shining example of strength and success. They love her energy — never knowing when she might be having a bad day health-wise — and the personal touch with which she deals with them.
Any intimidation that comes with Droesch’s standing as one of the school’s greatest players goes away quickly.
“It’s nerve-wracking, but the minute you meet her she’s so inspiring and so kind-hearted,” junior forward Kollyns Scarbrough said.
Added junior Kerry Mackey, the head coach’s daughter: “She puts her whole heart into this.”
It’s the same with everything she does. Droesch, who had to relocate to Rockville Centre, L.I., after the storm, was instrumental in getting the word out to organizers about what supplies were needed in Rockaway to help rebuild. In Bob Mackey’s mind she lives with a stubbornness and determination indicative of the Rockaway community she grew up in. It’s helped her beat some incredible odds.
“I can’t believe it’s been a year,” Droesch said. “If I got through this year, I think I can get through anything.”
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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