March 25, 2011
By Jon Cooper
– Georgia Tech’s softball team never has a problem getting up to play an ACC game, but the Yellow Jackets will be going at it with an extra sense of urgency when they take Mewborn Field this afternoon against North Carolina State. First pitch has been moved up to 11:00 a.m. to beat expected bad weather.
(Fans driving to the game, may want to consider parking at Peters and O’Keefe Parking lots, as Alexander Memorial Coliseum and Fowler Street will likely be full due to the all-day Yellow Jacket Invitational Track Meet.)
The ratcheted-up intensity isn’t solely directed at the Wolfpack. Most of it is actually intended for a bigger, more imposing foe – breast cancer.
Saturday is K’s for the Cure Day, a day when the team makes an all-out effort to raise money for Susan G. Komen For the Cure®, and do its part to spread the word about breast cancer awareness.
“You know that you’re playing more than just a game,” said senior center fielder Christy Jones. “You’re playing for anyone that’s had breast cancer, trying to raise money to get funding so we can help everyone.”
“Any time that the sport world can come together as a whole for a good cause to raise money whether it be for breast cancer or for leukemia or whatever else it is, I think that’s a beautiful thing,” added senior pitcher Kristen Adkins. “We have so much diversity in the world today, that you don’t see a whole lot of unity all the time. So even if it’s just for one day out of the year, just for one specific cause, I think it’s a great thing to see.”
“I think any day that we get to wear pink out on the softball field is going to be a fun day,” she added.
“It’s definitely a big day for us,” said redshirt junior first baseman Caroline Hilton. “We get a chance to wear pink and that’s good for people that like pink but it’s for a greater cause. A lot of people every day go through cancer. Women, specifically, go through breast cancer. So it’s good that we get to get together and remember that and raise money for it.”
In addition to the seniors literally giving the shirts off their backs in the auction, fans will have the opportunity to purchase special pink merchandise (hats, t-shirts, visors), and enter raffles for a variety of prizes, including a team-autographed pink batting helmet, a pink ball signed by head coach Sharon Perkins, a pink iPod Shuffle and the chance to get in the circle and throw out the first pitch before Tech’s game against Georgia on April 13th. All proceeds will go directly to the Susan G. Komen For the Cure®..
Also on sale at the game will be special t-shirts from Save 2nd Base, LLC, a subsidiary of the Kelly Rooney Foundation. Rooney was a wife and mother of five, when she passed away following a battle with breast cancer in July 2006. The shirts, which picture two strategically placed softballs, are an off-beat idea to bring some levity into a serious subject. They debuted at a 2005 Breast Cancer Awareness walk in Philadelphia and have become a big hit.
The idea of fighting this dreaded disease with a little humor found a place in Georgia Tech’s K’s for the Cure Day, courtesy of assistant coach and former player Aileen Morales.
“[The Rooney Foundation] shipped us a box of t-shirts and sent us an e-mail asking, would you be interested in doing something with these? Would you like to get involved?” she said. “I was like, ‘Why not?’ It’s a great idea. We’re already going to do a K’s for the Cure Day. It’s something else we can incorporate and help raise some money.”
Morales said the shirts were received quite well.
“I had a few people in my office and they were like, ‘Oh, these are awesome,'” she said. “Everybody was trying to get them and I was like, ‘No, we’re going to sell them.’ All the proceeds from that will go to the Kelly Rooney Foundation. So that will be great. Again, it’s another way to help out and give back.”
Jones recalled just how far K’s For the Cure Day has come.
“My freshman year I think we did it but we just had a little pink shirt, some pink shoelaces here and there,” she said. “It’s really grown. The basketball team has real pink jerseys when they play, we’ll have real pink jerseys this year. It’s trying to bring people out and make a lot of money.”
The game will hold as much importance to N.C. State, as they lost a member of their women’s athletics family, legendary basketball coach Kay Yow, to breast cancer after a courageous, nearly two-decade battle. The Kay Yow Cancer Fund began in December 2007. It was opened in partnership with the V Foundation, founded in 1993 following the loss of men’s basketball coach Jim Valvano.
The growing crusade in the fight against breast cancer is a good sign and makes Saturday that much more important to the athletes.
“Athletics and sports are a powerful force in the world,” said Hilton. “It’s just nice to see male sports, female sports, everybody come together and make a collective effort to raise money for breast cancer and one day find a cure.”
Fans making a donation should know that all donations are on a flat-fee basis, unlike in the past when there was an option to tie them to the number of strikeouts. They are still encouraged to root for Tech pitchers to chalk up as many strikeouts as they can.