Lady T-Birds Fight Breast Cancer One Game at a Time

Published: April 07, 2009 | Read Time: 3 minutes

A lot can come of a single athletic game. Records are shattered, championships won or lost and sometimes, even seasons ended. Yet the potential impact of just one game pales in comparison to what can be accomplished when you champion four teams, 13 coaches, 67 athletes and one sorority all toward a common goal. And at SUU, the results are, indeed, life changing. 

This past school year, Thunderbird Athletics has partnered with the SUU chapter of the Alpha Phi sorority to raise awareness and funding for breast cancer research by hosting games and matches devoted specifically to increasing breast cancer awareness within the local community. And in addition to trading in their usual red and white uniforms for paler pink duds, SUU’s female athletes have raffled, sold, cajoled and played their hearts out to raise more than $4,000 for the Huntsman-Intermountain Cancer Center at Valley View Medical Center in Cedar City. 

This is just the beginning. 

Brian Stock, head coach of the SUU’s Women’s Soccer team, introduced the breast cancer fund-raising match to SUU in the fall of 2007, as a way to pay tribute to his aunt who had just recently passed away after a long battle with breast cancer. Of his idea, Stock says, “(My aunt) was a soccer mom and it just felt like a great way to honor her and to involve our program and the local community in fighting for a great cause.” 

That first year, Stock’s team raised nearly $1500, leaving the pitch that day with a win for their season and for the cause. Just one year later, the soccer team was able to double the amount of money they raised, and more importantly, they quadrupled SUU’s man-or woman-power to battle the disease, when the basketball, gymnastics and softball teams joined in the fight by hosting their own breast cancer awareness matches. 

After assessing his department’s final such effort for the year, in the softball team’s breast cancer awareness double-header against Dixie State last Tuesday, Athletic Director Ken Beazer projects the University’s efforts in this capacity will continue to grow. In fact, the inaugural volleyball team will join the other four women’s teams in the cause next year. 

States Beazer, “The Athletics Department acknowledges and accepts the opportunity each student-athlete has to be a positive influence on the campus and in the community. We try to provide opportunities for our student-athletes to make a positive impact upon the community; in return, each student-athlete benefits from the experience, expanding their compassion and perspective.” 

That said, Beazer is quick to credit the student-athletes for propelling such efforts beyond the initial idea, stating, “The main push in this regard came from the individual teams, each wanting to be more active and do their part.” 

Stock agrees, explaining that after his team volunteered in the Survivors Tent at the local Relay for Life last year, his players’ intensity in their fund-raising efforts improved, as “meeting people who are beating the odds made the cause very real to them personally.” 

And while some teams sold pink jerseys and others canvassed the crowd for impromptu donations, in a community so closely tied to the University, the T-Bird fan’s role in these efforts do not go unnoticed. 

States Stock, “I am proud of our community for partnering with us in this fight. Our breast cancer awareness game was our highest-attended game of the season, despite a blizzard at the end of the match. And I still hear people talking about it even now. It means a lot to our players to be able to represent such a special group of people.” 

Though the school year may be winding down, this is one Thunderbird tradition that seems to have the gusto and appeal to carry far into the future.

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