Thursday night, thousands of screaming Missouri and Illinois basketball fans cheered their teams in downtown St. Louis in a game that has now become a part of the fabric of the bi-state region's sports history.
The Braggin' Rights game has taken on a bigger meaning for the region because it is played on neutral turf, first at The Arena, before moving onto the new Kiel Center, later renamed the Scottrade Center. One of the men who helped move the game from campus to St. Louis was honored in a suite high above the basketball court Thursday morning, when the American Cancer Society awarded De Smet grduate and Creve Coeur resident Jim Goessling with the 2011 Stephanie Philips Survivor Award.
Phillips, a high school basketball coach in Southwest Missouri, died after a brave battle with colon cancer in July 2010. At just about the same time, Goessling, a member of the 1973 De Smet state basketball title team who later went on to become a dealmaker in the sports and radio world in St. Louis, learned he was also fighting colo-rectal cancer.
Goessling said he was surprised by the Phillips honor after only being told to show up at . His sister and brother coach the St. Joseph's Academy girls squad which will play in the day-long event next month.
Unable to attend the pairings announcement because they were out of state playing in a tournament, "the Angels" passed on their good wishes by video.
Goessling says the serious diagnosis has been a "plus minus" for him.
"Life in general is completely different. You appreciate everything. You appreciate everybody in your life, any employee, who your friends are, how much you really care for everybody," he said.
"I have a chance to enjoy everybody one more time. I'm going to get 5 years, I hope maybe 10 years, who knows."