South Dakota unites with Weber State cause

BY foxsports • September 9, 2016

(STATS) - There's anticipation surrounding the FCS matchups between the Big Sky and Missouri Valley conferences this weekend, especially with three of them pitting nationally ranked teams.

The one that's overshadowed is Weber State at South Dakota, two 0-1 teams coming off lopsided losses to FBS opponents.

But that game includes a story that is as inspiring as any from the Eastern Washington-North Dakota State, Montana-Northern Iowa and Northern Arizona-Western Illinois showdowns.

Weber State third-year coach Jay Hill has been juggling two concerns over the last month. His Big Sky team, of course, but also the fact his wife Sara is suffering from Hodgkin's lymphoma, cancer of the immune system.

Sara has been given a good prognosis, and the Hills, including their four children, have gained a lot of support beyond family and friends.

This week, their network of support has included South Dakota fans who have joined the fight to stay #SaraStrong as former USD defensive end Dave Hultgren helped create a "Coyotes for Sara" GoFundMe page.

"Everyone (in the USD football brotherhood) said we all know people who've been touched by cancer," Hultgren said. "It isn't really the amount (of money) that matters; it's just the intent of it, and the good will that comes from it.

"Also, letting (the Hill family) know that we're thinking about them, and praying for them. We want (Sara) to have a fast and speedy recovery."

Donations also will be collected from tailgaters at the game and presented to Weber State athletic director Jerry Bovee afterward.

"This is an extremely classy act by the South Dakota fans," Jay Hill said. "It sure puts things into perspective of what's most important. It shows how classy those Dakota schools are, and how they handle their business."

The Weber State community in Ogden, Utah, has rallied around the Hill family as well. During the preseason, many coaches and players on the Wildcats' team shaved their heads in support of Sara as she began chemotherapy.

Also, notable college football coaches, including Ohio State's Urban Meyer, Utah's Kyle Whittingham and BYU's Kalani Sitake, have given support to the Hills.