KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — At Wednesday’s in-house media day for the Tennessee women’s basketball program, head coach Kellie Harper spoke about what it meant to support Lady Vol For Life Tasha Butts as she battles cancer.
Butts, who played at Tennessee from 2000-2004, announced in December 2021 that she would step away from her role as associate head women’s basketball coach at Georgia Tech University after she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
An outpouring of support ensued as the college basketball community rallied around the #TashaTough movement.
“On behalf of the Tennessee Lady Vols and all the LVFLs, we want to say, ‘you got this,'” Harper said in a video message in February. “We know how tough you are. We know you are resilient. You are a fighter, but also its important that you know you are an inspiration to us. We all hope that we can be Tasha Tough.”
Ahead of the 2022-23 season, Tennessee traveled to Atlanta to play Georgia Tech in a scrimmage and surprise Butts with special Tennessee ‘Tasha Tough’ shirts.
On Wednesday, Harper spoke about the importance of showing support to her and the emotions of their trip to Georgia Tech.
“It was a great opportunity for us when we were playing at Georgia Tech to go down there and show her some love and some support, because she’s family,” she said. “I wanted her to feel that from us, from her team here in Knoxville. It was a little emotional, but I’m glad we were able to do that for her.”
In partnership with the Play4Kay initiative, Georgia Tech’s athletic department committed to raising $100,000 in honor of Butts over the next two years. When the goal is reached, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund will award a $150,000 grant to Northside Hospital in Atlanta, where Butts received her cancer treatment, to bring quality cancer healthcare to women who can’t afford it. Donations can be made here.
Kay Yow coached at North Carolina State for over 30 years and is a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She died in 2009 at age 66 after a decades-long bout with cancer.