EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – Former UW-Eau Claire softball player Renee' (Cook) Smith, who competed from 1985 to 1989, has been named this year’s recipient of the Sandy Schumacher Courage Award. She will be recognized Saturday, September 28 at the 2013 Blugold Hall of Fame Banquet.
The Sandy Schumacher Courage Award was established in the fall of 2012 to honor the long-time Blugold coach, teacher, and pioneer. Schumacher was an advocate for young girls and women in athletics and had a part in starting numerous athletics programs for women on the UWEC campus. She also conducted the first volleyball and basketball camps for girls.
Schumacher, who was inducted into the Blugold Hall of Fame in 1995, battled cancer for more than two decades but lost her battle last fall. Even in the months just prior to her death, Schumacher could be found on the sidelines watching intently.
The Sandy Schumacher Courage Award is presented to a female Blugold student-athlete or alumnus who, when confronted with a life-altering situation, used perseverance, dedication and determination to overcome the event.
Renee' (Cook) Smith majored in biology with a minor in sports medicine, obtaining her bachelor’s degree in the spring of 1990. During her Blugold career, she played shortstop on the softball team. She also served as an athletic trainer for the women’s basketball team in 1989 and as a student assistant softball coach during the 1989-90 academic year.
During a routine mammogram in July 2007, Smith received news that she had tested positive for breast cancer. A month later she underwent a 12-hour surgery that resulted in a full mastectomy and reconstruction, which was followed up by eight weeks of chemotherapy and the maximum number of radiation treatments. A few years later, she was also diagnosed with precancerous cells on one of her ovaries and had to endure another surgery.
Smith was able to fight the cancer and celebrated her fifth year in remission on March 14, 2013. She now competes in triathlons and road races and has coached her daughter, Bryn, in softball and basketball for several years.