Struthers standout Beachy loses cancer battle
Bonnie Beachy led
Wildcats to state
title, starred at KSU
Former Struthers girls basketball standout Bonnie Beachy died on Friday after a long battle with cancer.
Beachy battled cervical cancer twice over the last 12 years.
In a previous interview with The Vindicator in 2012, Beachy said her cancer was caused by a genetic defect that is commonly linked to ovarian and breast cancer.
She is the all-time leading scorer at Struthers with 1,448 career points. She was a three-time All-Steel Valley first-team selection, and was named the AP Player of the Year and state championship MVP in 1978.
Beachy moved to Texas following her diagnosis to receive treatment.
Beachy played at Kent State following her high school career. She is the Golden Flashes’ career points leader and her 17.1 points per game are second highest in program history.
Kent State posted a Tweet on Friday saying:
“We are saddened by the loss of All-Time Great Golden Flash Bonnie Beachy. Please extend your condolences to the Beachy family.”
Former Struthers head coach Dick Prest said her best attribute was her leadership. He said Beachy was a thin, undersized player her sophomore year. But by her junior season, Beachy became the leader of the team and someone the entire team admired. By her senior season, Prest knew she was the best player in the area.
“She just made everybody better,” Prest said. “She was the best player on the floor. I always said that. The people around her weren’t the best people compared to other teams. But attitude-wise and their togetherness working with her, they were the best group on the floor.”
Colleen Karnes played with Beachy at Struthers. She said Beachy was the best basketball player she’s ever seen. Karnes said Beachy’s second effort — her ability to get her own rebound and her fight to get open — made her better than anyone else on the court.
Karnes said she knows Beachy showed that same fight years later as she battled her illness.
Prest and Karnes said they’ve stayed in contact with Beachy over the years. They both communicated with her on Facebook, and Prest had met with Beachy on a couple of occasions, including her return to Struthers in 2012 and when her number was retired at Kent State.
Prest said he knew Beachy’s health was quickly declining. He said he talked to her about the impact of Hurricane Harvey and said she was recently taken off her medication.
“The last message we received from her, we asked if everybody’s OK when they went through that hurricane,” Prest said. “And her answer back [was] ‘Everything’s OK, but I’m so weak and feeble, I can’t even get to the bathroom.’
“And that was the last message we had received from her.”
Karnes said she was shocked by the news and said it was “devastating to see someone so full of life go through years of suffering.”
But Karnes said she will always remember Beachy’s role as a teammate. She said Beachy always knew she was on a team and incorporated others into the team’s success. Karnes said Beachy spent time mentoring the younger players on the team and had a way of inspiring others to become better.
Karnes said she will always remember coming home after winning the state tournament and the impact Beachy had on Struthers High School and the community.
“Winning the state championship brought all kinds of recognition to our little school,” Karnes said. “I know coming home there were thousands of people at the school. She brought all kinds of recognition to our school. It was amazing.”