By Sean Tepper, Associate News Editor
Crediting her with building not just Ryerson’s women’s basketball program and its athletes, but better human beings, more than 150 people – including students, colleagues, former players and family members – paid tribute to Sandy Pothier in an hour long memorial service held in Kerr Hall gym on Thursday.
“How appropriate that we should be celebrating [Sandy’s life] here in a gymnasium,” said Toni Delabbio, a Chaplain at St. Michael’s Hospital where Pothier was treated for cancer. “A gymnasium is a place where there are wonderful wins, and there’s horrible losing times. There’s good things that happen, and there’s very difficult things. They’re similar to life, and I know, as one of her players said this evening, Sandy’s here.”
The ceremony was filled with an abundance of praise over Pothier’s strength, determination and of course, her distinguished career as both a successful basketball player and as one of Ryerson’s most accomplished head coaches. After a two-year battle with cancer, the longtime women’s basketball coach died on Jan. 21, 2012. She was 50.
Speeches, poems and blessings brought the crowd to tears on a number of different occasions, as those who stepped up to the microphone shared stories about Pothier. Amongst the speakers were former teammates, former players and fellow coaches and family members.
“I don’t know how our family is going to survive without her,” Jenna, Pothier’s sister said. “She was an important part of the glue that brought us all together.”
While each speaker shared a different story, every one of them made it a point to note just how much she loved to travel, as she spent all of 2009 travelling to places such as Peru, Mexico, Arizona and the Grand Canyon.
“Her attitude to the cancer was much like her attitude to coaching. Stay positive, work and fight hard to the end,” said Jenna.