By Polly Keary, Editor
Alan Dickson touched a lot of lives in his 13 seasons as head coach of the Monroe girls’ basketball program.
Now cancer has touched his life and the lives of his family, and those former team members are rallying once again to play for their coach, this time to raise money to help his family with medical expenses.
“What is happening is, he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and he’s not been given much time,” said former Bearcat Kaylee Hansen, who played on the team for four years between 1998 and 2002.
The former team members put their heads together and decided to give something back to the coach who gave them so many memories.
Dickson’s medical expenses have been high, as one of the drugs he has been taking isn’t cover by his insurance.
“We decided to put together an event to help him raise money for his bills,” said Hansen. “The alumni are coming back to play.”
It will be a gathering of some of Monroe’s best former high school athletes.
Under Alan Dickson, who coached the team for 13 seasons, the Bearcats went to State seven times, four times winning the championship.
Dickson was among Monroe High School’s most winning coaches, but his most dramatic victories took place off the court.
Since he was a young man, Dickson battled significant health crises, overcoming considerable odds to pursue his own athletic career.
At 16, he was diagnosed with acute ulcerative colitis, which caused internal bleeding. Doctors advised him to give up sports.
He decided to stick with athletics anyway, and went on to win a scholarship to Butler University, playing basketball and football.
Thirteen years after his first serious diagnosis, Dickson had a second.
At 29, he overcame sarcoidosis, a rare respiratory disease that took the life of NFL football player Reggie White.
In 2004, he had a massive heart attack during a game. Six weeks later he was back on the sidelines.
One year after that, he learned that he had prostate cancer.
For a time, Dickson appeared to be winning his battle with that illness, too.
The community rallied around him, inundating him with get-well cards, and even a blanket featuring the faces of his 2004-2005 team.
Dickson stepped away from the court for a while and focused on good nutrition and exercise. Although, when he learned he had cancer, he was already at stage 4 and the cancer had spread to his skull, he beat his oncologist’s prognosis that gave him 2-5 years to live.
After taking time off to battle his illness, Dickson returned to coaching in 2007 at age 64, his doctor upping his prognosis to 20 years.
He went on to coach the Bear Creek Grizzlies in Redmond and Cedar Park Christian.
But the cancer returned, and this time it was much more serious.
“They thought they had a hold on it, but it spread,” said Hansen.
Now his former team members are working to preserve his legacy.
“We are trying to get him into the Monroe High School Hall of Fame,” she said.
And they are gathering for one more game.
June 9 at 2 p.m., former Lady ‘Cats will hit the court at Monroe High School for an alumni match to support their coach.
The game is as much about honoring Dickson as it is raising funds.
And an induction into the hall of fame would be another excellent way to honor him, too, said Hansen.
“It would honestly mean so much to him and to the hundreds of girl basketball players that have been touched by his loving guidance and support,” she said.