Head Softball Coach Melissa Frost was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2016. Over six months, she underwent chemotherapy treatments while still attending practices and games. Assistant Softball Coach Sara Kubuske was by Frost’s side throughout the entire process, attending chemotherapy treatments and taking over additional responsibilities for the team. Despite the obstacles the team finished with a 33-21 season under the leadership of the two women, earning them recognition from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
Frost received the Donna Newberry Perseverance Award. According to the UIndy athletics website, the award is given to an NFCA coach “who has demonstrated extraordinary strength of will and character in the fight to overcome physical, mental or social adversity that presented an additional challenge to the already demanding job of a coach.”
Despite the many candidates that could have received this award Frost said that she was surprised to be honored with the award.
“I’m very humbled because I know a lot of people that go through a lot of personal things throughout the year,” Frost said. “It’s not an award that I thought I’d be in a position to receive, to put it that way. It was just very humbling to receive it.”
Kubuske said that Frost is deserving of the award because of her dedication to the team despite her battle. Days when Frost had chemotherapy treatments, the team practiced in the mornings so she could attend in the afternoon. The next morning, after spending eight hours at chemotherapy, Frost would be back to campus for practice. She attended every game except one, when the doctor had her remain in the hospital for the weekend, according to Kubuske.
“I don’t think she really fully grasped how much she plays a role and [is a] role model for the kids from last year. Not just necessarily on our team,” Kubuske said. “It was a very trying year for her and at any point, and [she could have], like most people, just taken the year off. Especially when we’re in a demanding job like we are, but she didn’t. . . . I think the girls even forgot last year what was happening to her because she never once showed it. I thought it was only fitting that she got it [the award] and I think it’s important for people nationwide to see that.”
Another reason Kubuske believes that Frost deserves the award is because of her focus on the team. For Frost, the team always comes first, and she wanted to disrupt their lives as little as possible throughout her treatments.
“There was a point in time where she didn’t want to tell the girls at all. She had it set in her mind that she was not going to mention one word to the girls, because she goes back to ‘it’s about them,’” Kubuske said. “And some of them in that locker room last year, it was their senior year and their last time putting on a jersey for a team, and she didn’t want to affect that. And that’s in my eyes, ridiculous, but in her eyes, it was only normal. She always puts them first. I think she hid it too much from them. So I think they could’ve been a greater help had she not been so strong, but that’s just the type of person that she is.”
Frost credits Kubuske, Athletic Director Sue Willey and the rest of the department for helping her achieve the award. Without them, she said that getting through the last year would have been more difficult.
Kubuske was named the 2017 Easton/NFCA Assistant Coach of the Year for Division II. This is only the second year that the award has been given out, Kubuske said. She earned this recognition because of her support for Frost and dedication to the team over her eight seasons at UIndy, according to the athletics website. Kubuske said that winning the award came as a shock to her.
“It wasn’t even something that had crossed my mind, to be honest. It just didn’t,” Kubuske said. “To me, it was just something so natural to be there for her [Frost], support her in any way I could, whether it was professionally or personally, on the field, off the field. And so it never even crossed my mind that it was something special that I did for her. I just felt like it was just something that a friend did for a friend. So it [the award] was not something I was expecting at all.”
Frost said that the award is well-deserved because of all the work and effort that Kubuske has put into the softball program, her family and Faith Fight Frost.
“I think it’s something that’s just in Coach A’s character. I think that’s just the type of giving, loving person that she is,” Frost said. “The moment she found out I was diagnosed, she wanted to jump into action and do something. And I think that was the biggest thing, and I just think that it’s awesome that she received the award. I mean, it just shows-beyond not just like what she did this year but the hard work and effort that she put in for the other eight years-that she’s been here. . . . I mean, it’s a lot of balls that are in the air that she juggles. But UIndy’s very lucky to have her.”
Kubuske said that Frost, and the head softball coaches at Bellarmine University, University of Alabama-Hunstville and Marian University were the ones who helped her achieve the award. The three head coaches were pivotal in helping Faith Fight Frost take-off and supporting a coach.
The team also was excited and supportive of Frost’s and Kubuske’s awards. Kubuske said that the players were some of the first to congratulate Frost after finding out from UIndy Athletics and social media. Frost said that the team was ecstatic when they found out Kubuske had been named Assistant Coach of the Year.
“I know that when we told them about Coach A’s award, and Coach A found out the same day the team did, the classroom we were in erupted. And I just think that speaks volumes as well,” Frost said.
Both Frost and Kubuske will be honored at the NFCA convention in Las Vegas in December. Frost said that it is an occasion both she and Kubuske are looking forward to.
“We’re both honored at the same convention. We’re very excited,” Frost said. “I think it’s really cool, because the award Coach A got is one that’s a very distinguished award. And then to have two people with the relationship that we have being honored at the same time, I think it’s really cool. It makes it that much more special.”