When the women’s basketball team takes on Dartmouth this Saturday, pink, not blue, will be the color of choice.
For the third year in a row, Yale Athletics will be participating in Pink Zone Day, an annual initiative of the Women’s College Basketball Association to raise breast cancer awareness, and the women’s basketball game will be the main event. On the day of the game, the Athletics Department will be selling raffle tickets and T-shirts in addition to holding a silent auction in order to raise money for the cause. The proceeds from the day as well as ticket sales will go to the Smilow Cancer Center.
Pink Zone was founded in 2007 after Kay Yow, former head women’s basketball coach at N.C. State, suffered her third reccurrence of breast cancer. While Yow lost her battle with the disease in January 2009, her spirit and cause lives on through the participation of Yale and over 1,800 schools in the event.
“She was a remarkable woman who touched so many lives,” said women’s basketball head coach Chris Gobrecht. “Everyone in the sport knew her. She battled the disease for 20 years, and she coached right up until a few weeks before she died.”
Pink Zone Day has special significance for Queen Smith, the team’s assistant coach. In the last four years, Smith has lost three relatives — her mother, sister-in-law and mother-in-law — to the disease. The captain of the women’s basketball team, Yoyo Greenfield ’11, said that the event is a great way to get the community involved in the fight against breast cancer, and to get fans out to the game.
Men’s basketball coach James Jones, Gobrecht and Smith all emphasized how breast cancer has affected nearly everyone, which is why they have signed up their teams for the cause.
“I think that most if not all of us have been touched by cancer, whether through a friend or family member,” Jones said.
In addition to the women’s basketball game, the gymnastics and swimming teams will also be competing at Payne Whitney Gym as part of the event. There will also be a bench press competition, Battle of the Badges, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The New Haven Police Department and the Yale Police Department will be among the teams participating. Smith said the Yale Police Department already has over 24 officers signed up for the contest.
Sherry Yang, gymnastics captain, said that the team will be wearing pink ribbons in honor of the event.
While the men’s basketball team will be on the road against Dartmouth, Porter Braswell ’11 said the team plans to wear pink shoe laces and pink warm-ups.
“The Pink Zone Day will provide the basketball team with an opportunity to demonstrate our support of breast cancer awareness, which is a cause that deserves everyone’s attention,” he said.
Last year, Smith said Yale raised just under $5,000, and their goal is to match or exceed that amount this year.