There will be constant reminders for Kentucky’s players and coaches that some are battling an opponent much more important than whatever team they’re facing that week.
A decal with the initials of offensive line coach John Schlarman and defensive lineman Josh Paschal will be on the Cats’ helmets all season, Coach Mark Stoops announced Thursday. Both the coach and player have undergone cancer treatments.
“We’ll have their initials on a small patch on the back of our helmet and also we have these wrist bands we made for the team,” Stoops said, showing a blue and white band around his left wrist.
The band says: “Schlarman Strong and JP on three.”
The second part is a reference to what the team says each time it breaks huddles this season: “JP on three; JP on me.”
After being diagnosed with cancer in recent weeks, Schlarman is going through chemotherapy treatments while still coaching the Cats.
Paschal, who played linebacker a season ago before moving inside to help on the line, had a malignant melanoma removed from the bottom of his foot this summer and is going through treatments as well. There’s no timeline for Paschal’s return.
Meeting with the media for the first time this week, Schlarman said he’s leaning on the sport he loves to help him get through cancer. The 43-year-old hasn’t missed a day of preseason practice despite having treatments.
“The support we’ve gotten from everybody has been phenomenal,” the former UK offensive guard said. “Coaching staff, these guys they’re like brothers to me. Players, unbelievable. You couldn’t ask for a group of young men to handle a situation any better than this group of offensive linemen.
“So, it just goes to show we’re recruiting the right type of guys in here, and I’m really excited to coach them and go through this season with them and get after it.”