Courtney Schoolcraft is the kind of student-athlete that every coach wants to have on their team. Just ask her head coach, Sue Kunkle, at Southern Indiana: “Courtney is an amazing kid. The most high-spirited and wonderful person,” Kunkle said of her young backstop.
Over the last several months, Schoolcraft has bravely fought a battle against cancer.
During the summer of 2019, a ganglion cyst was removed from the top of Schoolcraft’s foot. Ganglion cysts are defined by the Mayo Clinic as typically round or oval lumps that most commonly develop around the tendons or joints of the wrists; hands; ankles; or feet. The lumps are filled with a jellylike fluid, and most commonly can interfere with joint movement.
Following surgery to remove the cyst, a biopsy revealed that Schoolcraft – then just nineteen years old – had clear cell sarcoma. She took localized radiation treatments on her foot, choosing to take the treatments in Evansville, near her school, and more than five hours away from her family.
“She continued to practice, even though her pain was rough at times,” Kunkle said. “[In] December, we all celebrated because she had a clear scan.”
That celebration would be short-lived. Earlier this spring, Schoolcraft began her sophomore season with USI and batted .278 with ten RBIs and 14 runs scored before COVID-19 prematurely ended the campaign. It was after the novel coronavirus ended the year, and Schoolcraft and her teammates went home, that the second-year standout discovered another lump in her upper thigh area.
A biopsy and another surgery determined that the same cancer had returned. A 3-month chemotherapy regimen did not accomplish what was expected of it, and in early September, Schoolcraft began another chemotherapy treatment to try to knock out the cancer once and for all.
In the midst of her battle, Schoolcraft has inspired any number of individuals, including her own coach. “It’s been a rough road for her, but she is one of the strongest kids I know,” Kunkle said, adding, “She is bound and determined to beat it and be back on the field with us this spring.”
“Courage 4 Court” is the hashtag and message that Schoolcraft’s team has spread across social media, and the movement has caught on, with a number of teams and individuals at every level of the sport showing their support for the young fighter.