Kendra Kilpatrick first pitch

Stillwater High girls' basketball coach Kendra Kilpatrick, holding her daughter Riley, threw out the first pitch during the SHS Pink Out Night in September.

In some manner of fashion, Kendra Kilpatrick shares a sense of unknown and timidness about what most would describe as a crazy 2020 year.

Yet, for her, it’s quite a bit different than most. 

The young wife and mother of two who teaches math and coaches basketball at Stillwater High School has been battling breast cancer since her diagnosis April 8. 

“Mine has been an unknown year in many facets of my life,” Kilpatrick said. “I’m still just like everybody else in the unknown with sports and jobs. I’m like everybody that way, and my health has been just like that. We found out I was having cancer right when this whole pandemic thing started. … The pandemic hit and so did this, and neither thing has gone away yet.”

“You can let your readers know I’m supposed to be finished with this in December, so they can expect the pandemic to be done in December,” Kilpatrick said. “We’re just going to get rid of everything at the same time.”

That attitude and optimism is something that hasn’t left her during the past six months. Despite tough times and small setbacks as far as what she hoped – one of which was the lump in her breast not not completing going away during chemotherapy – Kilpatrick has benefitted from a large support system that’s helped keep her spirits up this year.

“It has been easier than expected for me to stay positive,” Kilpatrick said. “I have a peace about all of this. I’m not saying it’s been easy or fun, but we’ve just really had a peace through this whole process and believe there is a reason it’s all happening. God has a reason for this and I’ve been able to see it working. Obviously, I don’t know his reasons but I’ve seen it working through conversations I’ve had with people I never would have had if this had not happen. 

“I’ve had basketball players talk to me about my faith and strength, and those are conversations I can’t bring up as a coach, but girls have come to me asking about that. … I don’t want this to sound like I’m putting on a show, but knowing people are watching really has affected how I react to things.”

Kilpatrick’s year began like most as it was fairly normal. The one caveat with her was she was pregnant with her second child. Kilpatrick and her husband, Ross, were expecting their first son.

Kendall Kilpatrick was born April 14 and has been a healthy baby for nearly six months. He’s also been sleeping through the night recently in the Kilpatrick’s new home they had built and moved into late September.

She has dealt with giving birth and a cancer diagnosis during a pandemic, in addition to battling cancer and moving into a new house this year. Kilpatrick is also teaching math virtually while helping students through the district’s Edgenuity program.

Kilpatrick has remained the SHS girls’ basketball coach. The team officially began practice last week on the same day she was scheduled for lumpectomy surgery. Now, she awaits the results of the mass to see if the cancer spread and will need an additional surgery or if she’ll begin radiation in a couple weeks.

With the unknown awaiting Kilpatrick and the results, she has been able to enjoy some highlights of the year. One of those occurred last week when she threw out the first pitch at the SHS softball Pink Out Night. She was the honoree of the night, and she was able to celebrate it with her daughter by her side.

“They did a really nice job with that whole thing,” Kilpatrick said. “I don’t know who did the write up for Brodie (Meyers), but he did a really nice job. They didn’t ask me to proofread it and I didn’t know they were even reading anything, but he did a fabulous job. It was spot on about the whole journey in a one-minute thing. The girls were really sweet. They had flowers, a mask and a signed ball. Also, having Riley up there with me was special.”

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