Men’s basketball team raises funds, awareness through Coaches vs. Cancer

by Christin KloewerStaff Writer

On Feb. 2, the men’s basketball team participated in a nationwide event known as “Coaches vs. Cancer.” This event allows basketball coaches, their teams and the surrounding community to create cancer awareness and provide help to those who are fighting cancer.

“I think there’s a lot of our families and friends that have been affected in some way by cancer,” Bruce Wilson, head men’s basketball coach, said. “I think this is a good way for us to bring awareness to cancer and cancer prevention.”

Coaches vs. Cancer is a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The concept for this event was created by Norm Stewart, former head coach of the University of Missouri’s men’s basketball program, cancer survivor and member of the NABC. In 1993, the ACS and the NABC adopted Stewart’s concept, and it has been successful ever since.

“This is the first time that we’ve really participated, so hopefully we can make this a yearly type of event,” Wilson said.

Pat Hicks, transportation manager and secretary of the Athletic Department, was the coordinator for this event. Many fundraisers were incorporated into the basketball games that day to help raise money for cancer.

“It has been fun,” Hicks said. “I do think it would be a good thing if the coaches continued this event in the upcoming years. I also believe players need to encourage their parents to support such an event.”

A portion of the gate receipts were designated toward Coaches vs. Cancer, and the Simpson Guild donated 50 cents for every box of popcorn that was sold at the game. The men’s basketball team also raffled an autographed basketball, and there were containers available at the game strictly for cash donations.

More than 500 Division I, II and III college coaches participate in this program, and it has raised almost $40 million since it began in 1993. Since cancer has touched so many basketball coaches’ lives, Coaches vs. Cancer gives them the opportunity to fight the life-threatening disease and create awareness around their community.

“I am passionate about being able to help a good cause,” Tyler Erwin, assistant men’s basketball coach and athletic academic liaison, said. “We can all help towards the fight against cancer, and Coaches vs. Cancer creates awareness for everyone.”

Feb. 1-3 was the designated weekend for Coaches vs. Cancer, and it was also considered Suits and Sneakers weekend. All college men’s basketball coaches that participated in the event wore white sneakers with their suits.

“I think it’s a symbol of all of us trying to pull together to help the cause,” Wilson said.

Both coaches agreed that this program would be a great event to start having annually in order to help the fight against cancer.