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Eric Peterson, Published October 20 2011

Cancer awareness matches hit home for Dragons volleyball head coach

Moorhead - Tonight will be emotional for Tammy Blake-Kath. This time of year usually is for the Minnesota State Moorhead volleyball coach.

MSUM hosts Minnesota-Crookston at 7 tonight, almost exactly seven years to the day that Blake-Kath’s late husband, Riley Kath, died from cancer.

“It’s pretty emotional, because it brings up all those memories, especially when he died during volleyball season,” Blake-Kath said.

Cancer awareness will be the featured theme tonight as the Dragons host their annual “Dig for the Cure” match. The money raised will be used to help pay for hotel stays for cancer patients and their families.

“In my experience, it’s important that you help people out,” Blake-Kath said. “That’s the last thing they should be worrying about is money in a situation when someone is trying to fight for their life.”

Riley Kath was 35 years old when he died on Oct. 20, 2004. Blake-Kath was thankful that she was provided rooms when she traveled to Texas with her husband for treatments.

“I was helped, so it’s my turn to help some people,” Blake-Kath said.

Jerry Noerenberg, Blake-Kath’s father, also died from cancer in June 2006. Her mom, Nancy Noerenberg, is a cancer survivor.

“It’s not just about me. Everyone on our team and in our program has at some time been affected by cancer,” Blake-Kath said.

MSUM sophomore Angie Waller, a former Fargo North standout, has two breast cancer survivors in her family – her grandma and aunt.

“I think they are more emotional, especially since I have had people in my family,” Waller said of cancer awareness matches.

In 2004, the Dragons had a

16-0 record at one point and finished with a 23-8 mark. That success was juxtaposed against the stress in Blake-Kath’s personal life.

“I think back at some of the positive things that were going on in the gym and that time, and then the negative things that were going on in my life at the time,” she said. “How you can have so much joy for how well your team is doing, yet on the personal standpoint, life was pretty tough.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com