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Go Pink

Area sports teams raising money for cancer research

October 22, 2012
By JAMES A. ELLIS ( , The Leader Herald

Color pyschologists believe pink to be a positive color that inspires warm and comfortable feelings and a sign of hope.

That makes it a good choice for local teams that have embraced the color pink for one of the life lessons coaches tell their athletes that sports teach.

"I've said it 100 times," Broadalbin-Perth boys varsity soccer coach Brian Henry said. "I use my soccer program as a stepping stone for things they're going to learn over the course of their lives, and this is one of those evenings where they can walk away feeling good about the things that they do. It's near and dear to our hearts for many personal reasons."

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In honor of breast cancer awareness month, the Johnstown field hockey team hosted its annual “Stick It to Cancer” game Oct. 2 at Knox Field in Johnstown. More than $300 was raised for Play 4 the Cure. In addition to sporting pink socks and using a pink ball, the Lady Bills also wore special ribbons in their hair and shared matching ribbons with Hudson Falls prior to the game. (The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)

For the past four years, the Patriots have hosted the "Patriot Pink Out" game in which the B-P players wear pink jerseys that were donated to the team for their effort.

The Patriot Pink Out started in 2009 when the boys soccer team dedicated its season to high school Principal Robin Blowers, who was battling breast cancer at the time. Since then, the community has embraced the annual event. This year the event to increase breast cancer awareness and raise funds for cancer research included a post-game concert by The Refrigerators, vendors, raffles, pink memorabilia and fireworks along with a soccer game against the Johnstown Sir Bills.

"I don't know if there's any soccer team in New York state that gets its own fireworks show," Henry said. "Hats off to Mary Caruso for putting on a fantastic evening. We're very happy with the result of the soccer game, [a 7-0 win over the Sir Bills], and hopefully we made a lot of money for the American Cancer Society, too. "

The Mayfield volleyball teams also transition into the Pink Panthers as they wear pink jerseys for an annual game started four years ago in honor of a teammate.

"All the money we raised will go to Team Hope, a Relay for Life team sponsored by Mayfield volleyball alumni and cancer survivor Stacy Betler," Mayfield coach Eileen Rovito said. "We had other events going on, including the Pink My Ride bus from Don Brown's Bus. We are grateful for the support and turnout here."

The bus and its volunteers have made the trip to several venues including Northville for its pink game, offering fans the opportunity to buy pink items, including pink ribbon stickers that are placed on the black bus and can be dedicated to someone special by the purchaser.

In the past, teams from Johnstown and Gloversville have faced the Lady Panthers in the event and have shown their support by also putting aside their traditional team colors and donning pink.

Other teams throughout the region also have been "in the pink," putting their own spin on the effort to raise awareness.

The Johnstown field hockey team hosted its annual "Stick It to Cancer" game recently at Knox Field and raised more than $300 for Play 4 a Cure. The Lady Bills wore pink socks, used a pink ball, and shared matching ribbons with the Hudson Falls prior to the game. The officials also wore pink for the match.

It also has been a common sight to see football players honoring breast cancer awareness month by wearing pink socks, cleats or gloves during games or just a pink ribbon sticker affixed to their helmets, while other athletes have pink ribbons pinned to their shirts or shorts.

Recently, the Johnstown volleyball team captured top team honors in Queensbury's Power of Pink tournament, an event that held special meaning for many of its players and coach Heather McGuire.

The tournament was held in the honor of Emily Ziegler, a Queensbury student who has battled leukemia and in memory of Jim Gabeler, the longtime director of the Caroga Lake Volleyball Club who died Dec. 13 from colorectal cancer. Johnstown coach Heather McGuire said many of Johnstown's athletes were coached by Gabeler.

The color pink does not disappear from the fields and courts after the fall season.

Many basketball teams also stage events throughout the season including the Coaches vs. Cancer games and tournaments hosted by several local teams.

Last spring, the Gloversville Huskies baseball team also wore pink jerseys for its game against Johnstown.

"I have to thank our Dugout Club for coming up with the idea about Hits 4 Hope program to give back to the community," Gloversville coach Mike DeMagistris said after the game. "The word kind of spread with Albany Medical Center. There is a company that we deal with on a daily basis through athletics and they said this is a pretty special thing that you are doing. The supplier has had cancer hit his family a couple of times and I have had cancer hit mine a couple of times also. They wanted to do something, so they donated the shirts. It was not something we asked for, they donated them and our booster club paid for the lettering. They did request that if they donate the shirts we need to use them every year, so we will wear them for one game every year. It is a good thing and hopefully it raises awareness in the community."

Henry summed up the thoughts of many of the local coaches and players after this years Patriot Pink Out saying, "It's a great opportunity to bring awareness for people who are struggling with cancer. And it's a fun evening. You get a little soccer and sprinkle in the cancer awareness and everybody wins."



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