UVU trades green in for pink to raise cancer awareness
Count Utah Valley among the countless sports programs that care about cancer.
The volleyball and women’s soccer teams both hosted “pink games” in the month of October, including Thursday’s volleyball match against Houston Baptist. Like their professional counterparts, UVU athletes sported pink accessories in addition to their uniforms, including hair ties and arm bands.
Fans were given pink t-shirts by the team and the Mighty Athletic Wolverine League (MAWL) in support of cancer awareness month, marking a visible color change among the normally green-clad fans.
Sporting a pink tie Thursday, volleyball head coach Sam Atoa smiled at the similarly-colored crowd, which ended up providing one of the biggest home turnouts of the season.
“It’s a great cause,” Atoa said.
It is also a cause that starts at the top of the athletic program. Director of athletics Michael Jacobsen was diagnosed and treated for cancer 22 years ago. Incredibly, the treatments worked and the disease has remained dormant since. Jacobsen ex- pressed appreciation for the athletic program’s focus on cancer awareness, stating it gives more meaning beyond wins and losses.
“[The pink games] give a purpose to the game, and it’s great to see this kind of support as a result,” Jacobsen said.
The volleyball program has taken a more direct hand in cancer awareness this year, raising funds to support a faculty member who is suffering through a third round of the disease. The faculty member, who wished to remain anonymous, will receive donated funds received through the volleyball team’s recruiting efforts performed on game nights and in their collective spare time on campus.
Senior outside hitter Jaicee Kuresa admitted the cause held a personal meaning for many on the team.
“Having her be at UVU, someone we could personally have dealt with because we don’t know who she is, it hits close to home,” Kuresa said. “It gives us an extra purpose.”
The impact hits even closer to home for several players. Kuresa’s father was thought to have cancer a few years ago, but was properly diagnosed after further medical review. Others on the team, however, have been less fortunate and seen loved ones suffer through the disease. Kuresa’s near-brush with the same experience has given, according to her, another reason to excel on the court.
“Sports is about competing, but you still have a day-to-day life,” Kuresa said. “You have things that need to have purpose in your life. If you can play for someone else, if you can use your talents for someone else, then that makes you a great player and a great person.”
Matt Petersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org You can follow him on Twitter @Sports-Writer93.