As the Georgia Bulldogs showed on Saturday afternoon, playing a team does not mean that the fans have to treat the opposition poorly. In fact, hosting the game often provides the opportunity to show support in times of need. Georgia did just that when Arkansas State and head coach Blake Anderson came to Athens.
Anderson had originally stepped away from coaching Arkansas State's football team in mid-August to care for his wife, Wendy, who had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Triple Negative Breast cancer. Sadly, she passed away the same day that his leave of absence began. Weeks later, Anderson was on the sidelines once again, watching his team struggle against the much-bigger Bulldogs.
However, losing 55-0 on Saturday did not cause too much heartache for the head coach due to the fans in Athens filling the stadium with pink in honor of his beloved Wendy.
The entire Georgia fan base wore pink to honor their opponent's late wife and her battle with breast cancer.September 14, 2019
“One of the classiest moves I’ve ever seen,” Anderson said following the game. “Hard to truly prepare for something like that. So I would say thank you to all those who showed up today wearing pink or thinking pink. They don’t know my wife, they don’t know me and they didn’t have to do it.”
Despite having advance notice of the "Wear Pink For Wendy" movement, Anderson said that he was overwhelmed by the show of support from the fans in Athens. They didn't need to provide this outpouring of love, but they did so knowing full well that they would be rooting against Anderson's team upon kickoff.
“When I got the message yesterday, somebody sent it to me, I’ll be honest, I was overwhelmed with it,” Anderson said earlier in the week, per Yahoo! Sports. “It brought me to tears yesterday. I can’t tell you — I just know right now everything’s really raw and it’s very fresh and just the show of support has been overwhelming at times.”
Anderson had originally planned to coach throughout the season, but university and Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Terry Mohajir said in a press release that Anderson would be taking a leave of absence and would be replaced in the interim by assistant head coach David Duggan. This provided him with the opportunity to be with his wife in her final days.
Wendy was originally diagnosed with cancer in 2017 but was declared cancer-free after undergoing surgery. Unfortunately, it returned in 2018 and spread throughout her entire body. Treatments were no longer effective and Wendy passed away at the age of 49.
Losing his wife was devastating, but Coach Anderson will honor her memory while continuing as Arkansas State's head coach. He will also never forget the classy move by the Georgia fans.