Sister Maria Pares was known for her fiery nature during her Hall of Fame basketball coaching career. The fighting spirit also served her well during her lengthy cancer battle. (Harry Scull Jr. / Buffalo News)

Dec. 16, 2016.

That was the day I learned the late Sister Maria Pares was in home hospice care. It also was the last time I ever had the privilege of speaking with the Hall of Fame basketball coach, who lost her 16-plus year battle with cancer last Friday.

I shared the news with a colleague, and we decided to give her a call to see if she’s up to talking. Pares pounced on that opportunity much in the way she expected her players to dive on the floor for a loose basketball.

The thing I remember most from the 20-minute conversation – Pares voicing her displeasure regarding something she read that week in this newspaper.

While I was thankful I didn’t write the piece that prompted the rant, I did chuckle, thinking to myself that being that ticked off over a story that did not tackle any life or death issues had to be a positive sign regarding her health.

Sadly, it wasn’t.

At least Pares provided one more reminder as to what helped her become a larger-than-life figure on the Western New York sports scene: Her fighting spirit.

Sister Maria Pares, pioneer in women's sports, dead at 75

Death notice: Sister Maria Pares OSF

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