La Salle coach raises awareness for daughter with leukemia

Jan 20, 2022, 5:40 PM | Updated: Jan 21, 2022, 7:41 am

La Salle NCAA women's college basketball head coach Mountain MacGillivray is shown after a game aga...

La Salle NCAA women's college basketball head coach Mountain MacGillivray is shown after a game against Drexel in Philadelphia, Nov. 17, 2021. MacGillivray is raising awareness of pediatric cancer. His 2-year-old daughter Emily was diagnosed last year with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. (Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

(Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Emily MacGillivray treated her house like an obstacle course. The toddler, a tornado of energy, could be found after a scamper sitting on counter tops.

“We never had a kid who constantly was climbing on things,” said Mountain MacGillivray, her father and the coach of La Salle’s women’s basketball team.

Around Thanksgiving, Emily looked pale and her energy sagged. The family was only mildly concerned about the 2-year-old girl; Grace MacGillivray wrote on her blog she told her husband he didn’t even need to come to the emergency room for routine tests.

“Once we got to the ER, never did cancer enter my mind,” she wrote. “Our pediatrician had told me to pack a toothbrush and a change of clothes, pretty certain that we’d have to stay the night. I did, but thought for sure we’d be home the next day, maybe with some antibiotics but probably with just a prescription for an iron supplement.”

At first, doctors thought Emily might have serious liver issues, until bloodwork revealed she had leukemia. Emily was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a fast-growing — and the most common — type of childhood cancer.

“We were pretty scared and alarmed,” Mountain said. “The hours before we got the diagnosis, that was just the worst part, not knowing what you’re going to hear.”

MacGillivray graduated from Temple, coached Philly high schools and led Quinnipiac to the NCAA Tournament before he was hired at La Salle in April 2018. He might coach his most worthwhile game Sunday when the Explorers dedicate the game to Emily — now in remission — in a “Climb with Emily” day to raise awareness for pediatric cancer.

The MacGillivrays, who celebrate their 20-year wedding anniversary this year, have eight children, ages 19 to 2 years old.

The youngest, Emily.

The photos that dot MacGillivray’s Twitter feed show his daughter smiling while she holds an egg sandwich or about to fall asleep after eating an adult serving of mac and cheese. That Emily was in the hospital during those moments make the family grateful she can share in Sunday’s game.

The MacGillivrays learned this week that Emily was in remission, making Sunday’s event more of a reason for celebration than consternation.

“Since being off chemo since Saturday, Emily has really shown an improvement in her general well-being,” Grace wrote on her blog. “She’s keeping up more with the kids, she’s laughing, smiling, and talking a lot more, and eating more like a toddler!”

Mountain MacGillivray said his daughter needs about eight more months of chemotherapy and then, “our hope for her is that she won’t even know she has leukemia by the time she’s 10.” Emily came home Dec. 29 from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and MacGillivray laughed when he noted she has become a champ at taking her medicine.

“The one thing about 2 year olds, and it’s a lesson for all of us, is they tend to live in the moment. They don’t really worry about the future,” Mountain said.

MacGillivray’s Twitter bio notes he’s a “follower of Christ” and said the ordeal only strengthened his faith because of the outpouring of support from friends, family and strangers who prayed for them, cooked meals and donated money. La Salle and MacGillivray are trying to raise money Sunday for the B+ Foundation — which honors the life of Andrew McDonough, who died at 14 from cancer — in its mission for the fight against childhood cancer. La Salle will show videos from select players talking about how cancer has affected their lives.

La Salle will wear special T-shirts for Emily and photos of her will be on display during the matchup with Richmond.

“Yes, this could be really bad for Emily down the road,” Mountain said. “Anything can go wrong. But right now, Emily is as happy as a clam. I’m not going to worry about what could go wrong because I get to see her smiling and laughing every day.”


More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

7 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

7 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

7 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

7 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

7 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

7 months ago

La Salle coach raises awareness for daughter with leukemia