Women’s Basketball Team Takes Court to Battle Cancer
Moravian Hosts Clinics, ‘Pink Out’ Game During Play 4Kay Week
It’s not often a coach calls an athletic contest’s outcome “secondary,” but that’s exactly how Mary Beth Spirk described the Feb. 8 match-up between Moravian and Juniata’s women’s basketball teams.
During the 2014 Play 4Kay Game, the Hounds’ late comeback attempt fell short, ultimately losing 56-53, but Spirk felt her team earned a moral victory nonetheless. In front of a roaring, pink-colored crowd – including nearly two-dozen cancer survivors – Moravian lost, but in the defeat raised needed funds and necessary awareness for women's cancer research.
“It was a great atmosphere and just an awesome day overall,” Spirk said of Moravian’s annual “Pink Out” game. “Unfortunately, we didn’t win the game, but that was secondary in my opinion because we were all winners, we really are. With 20 or so survivors on the court pre-game, raising awareness in our fight against cancer, it was a truly powerful moment for us and our players. Here were cancer survivors smiling and happy, hugging and thanking us. It was really quite moving.”
With more than 500 career victories under her belt, Spirk knows a win when she sees it, and Saturday definitely fit the bill.
In addition to Saturday’s Pink Out Game, which included a Pie in the Face donation contest, raffles, T-shirt sales, etc., the women’s basketball team hosted two basketball clinics last week to raise funds for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
In its sixth year participating in the Play 4Kay initiative, Moravian has experience a great deal of success, raising a total of $45,360 over the last five years. (This year’s total will be determined in the coming weeks.) Additionally, Moravian has won the Play 4Kay contest at the NCAA Division III level for five straight years.
During the next few weeks, Moravian will continue to solicit online donations for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Click here to learn more and donate.
Spirk admitted she couldn’t help but get immersed in the moment, witnessing the numerous fans and survivors in attendance Saturday. This is a cause the Hounds truly rally around, she said.
“Our players take a lot of pride in this week because it brings our community together. They call it the best week of the season,” Spirk explained. “I think our coaching staff takes on the same kind of demeanor because we get so excited for this week as well. A lot of planning goes into it, too.”
Showing great creativity, the team’s promotional efforts included a Mission Impossible-themed YouTube video titled “Operation Pink Out,” as well as a flash mob in the HUB’s Marketplace Café.
ABOVE: During Saturday's Play 4Kay Game, Moravian's women's basketball team sported pink uniforms to raise awareness for women's cancer research.
ABOVE: All fans in attendance were asked to remain standing and to hold up a pink 'Assist With the Fight' sign until the Greyhounds' first basket Saturday.
Sara Steinman, assistant women's basketball coach, produced and edited the Operation Pink Out video, but credited the players, seniors Katie O'Rourke, Ericka Blair, Laura Jordan, Alyssa Hann and Danielle Brogan, for bringing it together. The film was shot over two hours, and the coach spent nearly four hours editing down the final version.
Steinman planned to compile a funny outtakes version of the film, but the actresses were too good. “Unfortunately, there were no bloopers,” she laughed. “We have a bright future in silent films here at Moravian.”
In previous years, the women’s team has utilized flash mobs to drum up attention for its Midnight Madness event in October, and it worked just as effectively this past week. Inside the Marketplace Cafe, the team and coaches completed a routine, choreographed by former cheerleading coach Erin Oleksa, with songs such as Beyonce’s Run the World (Girls) and Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Want To Have Fun.
Spirk commended the College community for its support over the years, noting that the Juanita coaching staff even mentioned the wonderful fan turnout and involvement.
“I think when something good is going on, people want to be a part of it, and I think that is what happens here,” she said. “It is a credit to everyone in the Moravian community that we are pulling together to help find a cure.”
In addition, the women's basketball team hosted its annual Alumni Game on Saturday prior to the Greyhounds' Landmark Conference game versus Juniata College. Many of the alumni in attendance were dressed in pink to kick off Play 4Kay at Moravian.
Moravian had 17 alumni return for the event including Denise O'Neill '87, Jane Tatum Helstrom '90, Katie Craig Altmire '92, Kathy Beck DeKorte '92, Amy Endler '93, Nicole Farina Storm '95, Cathy Huegler '99, Jen Page '99, Lynne Grzywacz Webb '99, Kelly McLean Rindock '03, Heather McDonald '06, Steph Seaman Kennedy '06, Amie Ballo '11, Erin Bradley '11, Jennie Miller '11, Ally Blair '12 and Katie Marakos '13.
Former coaches Dan Tannous and Shelley Bauder were the referees of the Alumni Game.
Click here for a photo gallery of the event.
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