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Dallastown girls' tennis team rallies around longtime coach during her cancer battle

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
717-505-5403/@yascores
Deb Gable
  • Deb Gable is a longtime Dallastown High School girls' tennis coach.
  • Gable was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • The Dallastown girls' tennis program has rallied around Gable with a tribute and fundraiser.

Deb Gable has rallied around her Dallastown High School girls’ tennis team for many years.

Now the team is rallying around its longtime coach.

Gable, who was Dallastown’s head coach for more than a decade until stepping down after the 2017 season, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer during a checkup in late July.

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“Everyone knows Deb,” first-year head coach Aaron Hare said of Gable, who is an assistant coach now. “She’s always the best-dressed coach and she’s just so friendly. I mean York County tennis is Deb Gable. And I know a lot of people are completely heartbroken by (the news).”

Organizing a tribute: To support their coach during her time of need, the team and Hare quickly organized a tribute and fundraiser during a practice last week.

“We wanted to do something for her pretty quickly,” Hare said. “Because we know that when her treatment starts that she won’t be able to be around the team and she’s going to have to stay away from people.”

Hare and Dallastown Booster Club president Jen Eiben were able to have 100 pink shirts made in just four days. The team wore those shirts, which have "TEAM GABLE" written on the back, to practice on Aug. 11.

Gable, who used tennis balls to spell out inspirational words on the fence at the school’s tennis courts for Senior Nights when she was the head coach, was touched to see the team spelled out the word "HOPE" on the fence in between two ribbon icons.

“I would always struggle to spell out the words with tennis balls,” said Gable, who was the 2019 Special Olympics Coach of the Year for Pennsylvania. “So when I saw that I thought it was funny.”

Touching moment for Gable: The overall moment certainly was touching for Gable, who cried for a few moments after she realized what the team did for her.

“It was such a surprise,” said Gable, who is also a math teacher at the high school. “It does feel weird to have this attention, but it’s really great, you know what I mean? It was just so great to feel all of that support.”

While the roadmap for Gable’s recovery is still up in the air, Hare has no doubts that his mentor will get through it.

“We all know that she’s the most amazing fighter in the world,” Hare said. “So as worried as we are, we all know that she’s going to be fine. She has to be and we told her that.”

Keeping her spirits up: For her part, Gable seems to be keeping her spirits up during a difficult time. Her husband, Dallastown head wrestling head coach Dave Gable, and son Brooks, stepson Clay and stepdaughter Allyson, have been supportive since the diagnosis.

“Dave has been great,” Deb Gable said. “And Brooks has been funny. He’s kind of kept things not so serious. He said he’d go and look for wigs for me and stuff like that. He knows that I always wanted to have really long hair so he’s like ‘this would be awesome.’ He’s just trying to keep things light.”

Hare is hoping to be able to support Gable by selling the pink shirts at practices and matches this season, as well as online through the team’s Twitter feed (@DtGirlsTennis) for $10 each. All of the funds raised will go toward helping with the costs of Gable’s treatments.

If initial reaction is any indicator, the shirts could be a huge success.

“We already need to order 100 more,” Hare said. “So that is super good.”

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.