UPTON, MA (WHDH) - “What’s up Coach Yancik?” begins Tom Brady’s twenty second message of encouragement to Derek Yancik.
It’a message from a legend to a man facing the battle of his life. Last year, the Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School teacher and assistant football coach was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Blackstone Valley continues to prepare for their big state finals matchup Saturday against Mashpee at Gillette Stadium, but the players’ hearts remain with Yancik.
“[With] what he’s going through right now, he still comes to our practices,” said sophomore cornerback Zach Snyder. “He always comes to our games. He’s an inspiration. He’s going through a lot and he just perseveres.”
With the big game coming up at Gillette, Snyder came up with a Hail Mary idea to help give his coach some encouragement.
“Yancik’s a big Patriots fan and he always wanted to meet Tom Brady,” Snyder said. “So I figured since we’re in the playoffs, we’re going to Gillette, why not try to reach out to him and get dreams made true.”
The team began promoting Yancik’s story on Brady’s Facebook page. Brady won’t be at Gillette this weekend. He’ll be traveling with the Patriots to Buffalo. But he did send Yancik a message that his players say brought him close to tears.
“I wanted to wish you the very best of luck not only in the game but everything you’re battling,” said Brady. “We’re thinking of you and best of luck with everything. Take care.” Of course, cancer hits close to home for Brady. His mother, Galynn, battled breast cancer during New England’s Super Bowl LI run.
Blackstone Valley quarterback Reese Hendricks was blown away.
“He’s the goat!” said Hendricks. “He’s the man. For someone like that to take time out of his day to just send a simple message, it meant a lot.”
While Coach Yancik has missed some games this year because of his cancer treatments, he plans to be on the sidelines Saturday.
For his players that means just as much as getting a message from TB 12.
“He’s always in our hearts and our minds,” said sophomore running back J.D. Antaya. “Everything he’s going through it’s like we’re going through too so everything we’re doing out here on the field is for him. I know it makes him happy so anything we can do to make him happy is what we want.”
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