Cajun Nation

A Love Story: Louisiana Basketball coach honors his late wife

02/14/2018 - A fairy tale love story with a not so happy ending.

Two years ago the Ragin Cajuns Women's Basketball Coach lost his wife to breast cancer. 

Saturday was their annual pink game where they honor people who are fighting or have battled with cancer.

For Head Coach Garry Brodhead, this hits close to home. 

It's the disease that took his wife from him and his children way too early.  

A love story that started years ago on Verot School Road where Garry Brodhead, only eight years old at the time, met his wife Andrea. 

"As she ran over you could just tell she was the pretties little girl." said Garry, "It was kind of real special for me and you know we just hit it off as a friendship."

A friendship that quickly turned into love, the kind of love you thought only existed in books. 

"I just fell in love with her from an early age," he explained, "We got married once we got into college and we dated all during high school and were married for 38 years. Actually, this would be our 40th year that we would be married so it's pretty special." 

"Just living a fun and young life," said daughter Ashley Richard, "We rode bikes and just remember them being friends; and my mom, both of them, very dedicated to their children."

Dedication that wasn't just noticed by family. 

Andrea took over the Biddie Basketball program and quickly became a mother to more than just her three children.

"She just had that caring way of making young kids feel comfortable," said Garry.

"All of us come from a coaching background," explained Richard, "she comes from the motherly, accommodating, customer service kind of background. Everyone loved my mom."

" She was just really loving and a person that would lend an ear to anybody," said son, Beau Brodhead.

"I have a brother who I see every day he comes to Biddie, a lot of people know him as Ryan Randel, my mom gave him love," said daughter Blair Boyd, "That's what he comes up to me all the time he's like 'you know I never knew what love was until your mom gave that to me.'" 

In April 2012, Garry was hired to be the Women's Basketball Coach at UL. 

One month later, they received the news. 

Andrea had been diagnosed with breast cancer. 

"Ashley, my oldest daughter, was the coach at Saint Thomas Moore High School and won two state championships and knew I had just got the job," said Garry, "[She] came to me and said 'look dad I'm going to resign, mom takes care of my kids I'm going to resign to take care of her.'"

"It wasn't even a decision." explained Richard, "I knew what my mom had given me and I was determined to give it back to her."

Andrea went through a lot.

A double mastectomy, chemo therapy, and much more.

"I guess about a year and a half after the treatment and all that and operations, she was cured," Garry explained, "She felt really well, she had actually went back to work and really never stopped doing the Biddie program and went through the whole season again and then it came back. I remember driving up at Little Rock, it was going to be our first conference game of the year and I got a call from that young doctor saying that the cancer had spread all over. it was in her bones and in her liver and right away I knew I needed to come back."

Andrea had to start the process all over again. 

Her family stayed hopeful that she could fight it but unfortunately, on September 11th, 2015, she passed away. 

"It was tough," Garry said. "Just the relationship we had and I guess the biggest thing for me that helped me get through it was that our relationship was for so long with great kids. You know I think, I look at my kids and I know that, I can feel great about the fact that they were brought up the right way because of her. She had so much to do in raising them, teaching them the right way and the culture of what we do so I can smile everyday because of that."

"Different every day. Your life doesn't look the same you don't get the kind of love your mother gives," Richard explained while fighting tears, "The kind of support, appreciation that only a mother can give. I was very angry at her for leaving. I was in denial for a long time and now I just miss her. Every event that happened, there's something missing. And it's her."  

Andrea may be gone but the spirit of her lives on through her children who have taken over the biddie basketball program, her husband, who continues to give back to the community as well as raise awareness about cancer and the lesson that she taught to not only her family, but almost everyone she encountered.

"Always love, love, love," said Beau

"You miss someone because of how great they were," said Garry, "and that's kind of the feeling I get because she was such a great person."
 


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