Let’s all take a brief break from looking at what lies ahead for the 2013-14 college basketball season, speculating where Andrew Wiggins will be playing next season, and how Rick Pitino has been on the hottest of hot streaks lately.
Stories like what Pete Kahler and his family have been going through for the better part of a year truly put the game we all love in perspective.
Pete Kahler is the video analyst and editor for the University of Michigan basketball team. Like all people who pursue a career in college basketball, Kahler has been working his way up the ladder beginning as a graduate assistant video coordinator at Ohio University for then coach Tim O’Shea, moving to Smithfield, RI to become the Director of Basketball Operations for O’Shea when he took the head coaching position at Bryant University, and finally reaching his current position at Michigan in 2010.
Kahler was well on his way, but in the spring of 2012, while working in the Michigan Stadium press boxes as the basketball offices were being remodeled, his entire life turned upside down after receiving the most devastating call of his life informing him that his mother, Katie Kahler, suffered a massive stroke. In the coming days, she would undergo multiple brain surgeries to remove an aneurysm that caused a blood clot, and doctors were unsure whether she would make it or not.
The weeks leading up to and after the surgeries were exceptionally trying for Pete and his family, but when Katie awoke from her initial surgery, he knew his mom would pull through this.
“That was the point I knew she was going to be all right,” he said. “I didn’t really care what anybody else told us. I just knew it at that point. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. There would be setbacks. But I knew she was going to be OK—and OK for me was alive.”
Fast forward a year, and Katie is alive and well. Of course, she has the doctors and her family’s unending support to thank for her recovery, but the Michigan basketball team contributed, as well:
“[Katie] would call me (Pete) and we’d talk about basketball. I can tell she’s really getting into it. She became the biggest Michigan basketball fan. She hounded my dad to go to a game.”
As difficult as this time has been for Pete, his parents have continued to support him despite the many distractions off the court:
“My dad told me, ‘You worked at places [Bryant] where you were 1-29. You might not ever get to be part of something like this again. You need to realize that and live in the moment.'” Pete said. “My mom’s nodding and saying, ‘Absolutely you do.’
The Kahler’s hail from Ohio, so cheering on the Maize and Blue has been difficult at times, but Katie has developed into one of their biggest fans. When Michigan advanced to the Final Four in Atlanta, there was little doubt Katie would be making the trip south:
“The fact that she was there … nothing else mattered at that point. I looked at her in the stands [after beating Syracuse] and got a little choked up thinking, ‘She’s alive and she’s here.’ This [game] was just the cherry on top of everything.”
Katie Kahler’s miraculous recovery demonstrates how sports have an uncanny way of providing hope and something to believe in even during the darkest and bleakest of times. Watching Pete’s Final Four run with Michigan was a welcoming distraction for Katie, and what a beautiful distraction it was as Michigan nearly won the National Championship.
Here on Mother’s Day, let’s all be thankful for the beautiful and wonderful mothers out there.
You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11