UNI 's Kate Kinnetz will receive prestigious MVC Award - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UNI 's Kate Kinnetz will receive prestigious MVC Award

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Northern Iowa softball player Kate Kinnetz is one of the 2016-17 recipients of the Missouri Valley Conference's Most Courageous Award.

The MVC presents the Most Courageous Award to a past or present student-athlete, coach or university administrator who demonstrates unusual courage in the face of personal illness, adversity or tragedy and whose behavior reflects honor on the institution or the Conference. Individuals receiving the award might also have performed heroic feats or otherwise inspired others.

The award presentation for Kinnetz will occur at halftime of Sunday's UNI men's basketball game vs. Wichita State. The game will begin at 3 p.m. in the McLeod Center.

Kinnetz was a first-team all-state softball player for Waterloo East High School. She joined the Panther softball squad in the fall of 2013 with high aspirations.

Kate played the whole fall schedule and battled fatigue and shortness of breath. In the third week of October as the Panthers headed into their first week of offseason training, the fatigue and shortness of breath became more intense after a UNI-Dome stair workout. By that weekend, it wasn't getting any better so she headed to urgent care with her mom. However, the attending physician performed a chest x-ray to try and figure out the cause of her tiredness. The x-ray revealed spots on her lungs and what would eventually be diagnosed as non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Kate began chemotherapy treatment and the approach appeared to be working. She was cleared to play for the spring 2014 season. About a week into her spring workouts, she discovered a lump under one of her armpits and the challenge was back on. She underwent another round of chemo treatments and by the fall of 2014, she decided to try a stem cell transplant. This aggressive approach simply rocked her body and beat her up – it brought about a long road of recovery. As she battled her cancer, she was not enrolled at UNI in the 2014-15 academic year.

But the entire time through both bouts, softball was her guiding light. She changed her approach from "I have to play softball," to "I get to play softball." She set a goal of getting healthy, putting on that UNI softball uniform, getting back on the field and playing softball with her teammates. Kate has always been strong in her faith and she has a tremendous support group.

She re-enrolled at UNI in the fall of 2015 and began her return to Panther softball. She was slowly progressing with short stints on the field of about two innings at a time. As UNI headed into the spring 2016 season, she was gaining strength and able to contribute to the team. Kate would play in 27 games and had five hits in nine at-bats for a .556 batting average. She even hit her first collegiate home run on April 3 in the sixth inning of our home game against Indiana State.

That moment was awesome and emotional all at the same time. She has embraced the path that God has chosen for her. There were tears along the way but not because of "why me?" or "I can't do this." It was because she always had a smile on her face.
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