News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 19, 2013

Hughes, News & Views: Former South players to play in Saylor benefit game

David Hughes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — I had my first phone conversation with Mike Saylor since mid-February on Thursday and he sounded good.

The former Terre Haute South High School boys basketball coach, who’s been battling cancer this year, has been traveling back and forth to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for chemotherapy treatments.

Saylor, 52, concluded his first round of treatments a few weeks ago and he started his second round this week. All in all, six cycles of treatment are scheduled.

Although Saylor preferred not to speculate on his future, he did say the medical facility he chose for his treatments couldn’t be better.

“It’s top of the line,” he emphasized. “Some websites rank it No. 1 in the world for cancer treatment. The staff has been very nice.”

Between treatments, Saylor hopes to attend the “Coach Mike Saylor Benefit Night” festivities next Friday, April 26, at South.

“I feel pretty good about being able to come back,” he said.

A $5 chili supper will be served at 5 p.m. in the cafeteria, a silent auction will take place in the pool lobby all evening and the highlight of the night will be an alumni basketball game at 7. Admission is $5.

Game director Shane Abrell said in an email Thursday that former South players coming to play include Tony McGee, Brian Evans, Steve Hart, Maynard Lewis, Seth Dunlap, Anthony McGill, Christian Barnett, Cole Vicars, Ian McIntyre, Lucas Steward, Greg Luken, Zach Odum, Barry Minnett and Spencer Harlan.

Confirmation from others — hint to Jeremy Harrold and Toby Stephens, say “yes” (insert wink symbol here) — should arrive in the next few days, Abrell added.

“It has been a pleasure putting this together and I have been amazed with the response we had from former players wanting to take part in the event,” noted Abrell, an assistant athletic director at South.

Also, “This SAYLOR ship won’t sink” bracelets are still being sold in the South athletic office for $3. All proceeds from the benefit night and bracelet sales will go to the Saylor family.

Saylor, who admits he’s had his ups and downs in recent weeks, mentioned how much he appreciates the support he’s received from the Terre Haute community since news broke of his cancer diagnosis.

“I’d really like to thank all the people who’ve been supportive in various ways, especially prayer,” he said. “People have just been angelic to me and my family. Terre Haute is a place with a lot of caring, Christian-loving people. It’s amazing.”

Saylor also wanted to thank the South and Vigo County School Corp. personnel for organizing the benefit game.

“It’s very nice that they’re doing it,” he said. “South, [principal] Chris Mauk, [school superintendent] Danny Tanoos and the staff have been wonderful to me. It’s been a very humbling experience.”

Just so everyone knows, Saylor did not ask to be interviewed for today’s column. It was my idea because I run into so many people who have been asking about him.

But Saylor reminds us there are countless other cancer patients — those whose names aren’t recognized in the sports section because they weren’t coaches or athletes — who deserve get-well prayers as much as he does.

“This is a tough thing to have to go through,” he explained. “It’s not something I would want to see anyone else go through. There are a lot of people who go through this stuff.”

David Hughes can be reached after 4 p.m. by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at 812-231-4224; by email at; or by fax at 812-231-4321.