When Patience was first diagnosed with cancer, she originally thought that she would have to "red shirt" the season while undergoing treatment, but after her biopsy she began to feel well enough to resume training. She spoke to her doctor, who told her that continuing with her normal routine would actually be the best thing for her health. So with the support of her coaches and teammates, she suited up and joined the team. It wasn't always easy, she notes. In fact, while competing at the Nationals in 2007 Patience remembers feeling "not quite right." After returning home she learned that an 8 cm portion of the catheter used to administer her chemo treatment had broken off and fallen into her heart. The port was surgically replaced, the chemo flow resumed — and Patience got right back to training!
"I feel blessed that I've been able to return to the sport I love," says Patience. "It really is like a dream come true. My teammates and coaches have all been really supportive of me right from the beginning, and that has made a huge difference. When I first started training again I couldn't lift nearly as much weight as I was used to, and I was feeling sorry for myself a little bit. But as my strength began to return I felt that staying on the team was really the best thing I could do. I'm very honored and surprised to be chosen for the Inspiration Award — it just feels great."
Patience's Head Coach, Wes Kittley, noted that she has been a tremendous inspiration to everyone on the team. "In Patience, we have the greatest example of someone who won't quit, and who continues to fight cancer and the feeling of being sick because she wants to be a part of our team," he says. "That really helps put things into perspective for all of us. We all rallied around her to make her well, and in turn, she's helped make us well."
The 2008 season has been a break-out year for Patience Knight. During the indoor season she earned her first All-America honor and won the Big 12 Indoor Championships in the shot put with a throw of 56'-4.5." During the outdoor season, she set another school record in the shot put with a throw of 57'-11" and qualified for the NCAA Regional Championships in both the shot put and discus.
In 2007, soon after returning to the field for the indoor season, Knight won the Texas Tech Open with a throw of 47'-8.5" in the shot put and won the indoor Texas Tech Invitational with an NCAA provisional throw of 50'-8.25" in the shot put. She placed first at the Texas Tech Open with a 52'-7.5" in the weight throw and set another personal best in the event at the 2007 Dan DeHart Invitational with a throw of 53'-1".
Like all Inspiration Award winners, Patience was chosen not only for her athletic achievements, but also for her strength of character and for the outstanding example she sets for young women everywhere. Born in Stockton, California, Patience has two brothers, Edward and Matthew. She is a Wildlife and Range Management major. In addition to her courageous return to track & field in 2007, she also received Academic All-American honors.
Past Inspiration Award winners include Jess Kohut from the College of New Jersey (2007), Lindsay Payne from Williams College (2006), Brittney Kroon from Seattle Pacific University (2005), Chanda Gunn from Northeastern University (2004), Kristy McPherson from the University of South Carolina (2003), Kristin Koetsier from Western Michigan University (2002), Kendra Berner from Davidson College (2001), Johanna Olson from Luther College (2000), Jeni Jones from the University of Florida (1999), Heidi Anderson from Bentley College (1998), Corinne Carson from Marymount College (1996), Allyssa Johnson from Arizona State University (1995), Haley Scott from the University of Notre Dame (1994), Jennifer Mead from Providence College (1993), Heather Stepp from the University of Georgia (1992), Tracy Nichols from Vassar College (1991), Jill Robertson from Montclair State College (1990), Angie Jacobs from the University of California, Berkeley (1989), and Marie Roethlisberger from the University of Minnesota (1988).
(Courtesy: College Women Sports Awards)