(FREDERICTON, NB) They’re more than just games.
That’s the feeling most Varsity Reds student-athletes have, heading into the annual Stewart McKelvey Think Pink Weekend.
Four UNB teams will play six games, on the court at the Richard J. Currie Center. And while the games are important, the off-court fund-raising and awareness efforts, in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, will be the overriding theme.
“My aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, back in 2013.” For Annika McConaghy, it’s personal.
“She fought the battle and she is now cancer free. So, I’m doing this for her and she’ll be cutting my hair at half-time, so it’s really, really close to my heart.”
McConaghy, a 3rd year forward with the Varsity Reds women’s basketball team, and teammate Chelsey Collette, will be cutting their hair.
It’s an act that has become an annual tradition for at least one member of the team.
The cut will happen on court, at half-time of the men’s basketball game, on Saturday evening.
The hair will be donated to a program that creates wigs for women who’ve lost their own, during treatment for breast cancer.
“We all know that it’s something bigger than ourselves,” says Collette. “Even though we’re out there, trying to win a game, just like any other weekend, we do put a lot of emphasis on knowing and realizing no matter what the outcome of the game, we’re still there to raise money and awareness about breast cancer. I think that’s important, especially for girls and women our age.”
Jilliane Portelli, head coach of the Varsity Reds women’s volleyball team, and one of her players, are also planning to have their hair cut for the wig program.
The Think Pink theme comes out of the Shoot for the Cure campaign.
Launched in 2007, it’s raised almost $900,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
For the fifth year in a row, all 47 CIS women’s basketball schools will host a Shoot for the Cure event.
Varsity Reds head coach Jeff Speedy is also the president of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. He says 2016 should be the year the effort reaches a significant milestone.
"This is a very special year," says Speedy. "We should easily pass the $1,000,000 mark for total money raised since the inception of this event nine years ago.”
Think Pink Weekend begins Friday, with two Dig for the Cure volleyball games.
The Varsity Reds men’s and women’s volleyball teams play host to Dalhousie.
First serve, for the women, is at 6:00PM, at the Currie Center. The men follow, at 8:00PM.
On Saturday, the men’s volleyball will face Dal again, at 1:00PM, while the women take on Saint Mary’s, at 3:00.
The basketball teams welcome St. FX to the Currie Center, on Saturday evening. The women tip-off at 6:00PM, the men at 8:00.
Spectators, take note. Buy a ticket to see volleyball in the afternoon, and it’s good for admission to the evening basketball games.
Fans can purchase tickets on a number of draws, throughout the weekend, with all monies raised supporting the Breast Cancer Foundation.
As well, McConaghy and Collette are hoping their hair cut will prompt donations too. Anyone interested in donating can do so on-line:
“If people aren’t donating the money, there is no chance that they’re going to find a cure,” says Collette.
Both women admit, the decision to cut their hair wasn’t an easy one to make.
“For me, being a red-head, being identified by my hair… hair means a lot,” says McConaghy. “But it means more to someone who needs it more than I do.”
McConaghy says, in preparing for this weekend’s cut, she’s found a quote that has served as inspiration.
“To us, it’s just hair. To a woman with breast cancer, it’s hope.”