By: Max Edison
The numbers bear out the gravity of the illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control, breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in Hispanic women. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women. Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women.
To help spread the awareness and celebrate the lives of breast cancer survivors, the TSU Women’s Basketball Team is sponsoring “Party in the Pink Zone, Saturday, February 13th at the H & PE Arena, beginning at 2 pm. The Lady Tigers will be hosting Grambling.
Lady Tigers second year coach Yolanda Wells-Broughton, a former assistant coach to Van Chancellor at powerhouse LSU, explains the team’s involvement in “Party in the Pink Zone.
“Throughout my coaching career, ever since it started, I’ve always been apart of some type of breast cancer awareness initiative,” Coach Broughton recalled. “The initiative was something that was started through the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) to bring about increased awareness of the disease. It was called “think pink” a few years back. I had always said that whenever I became a head coach that would be something I would keep going. Here at Texas Southern it’s called the “pink zone”. We had an event last year and it was a hit with the band wearing pink shirts and supporters buying and wearing pink T shirts. I’m honored to be a part of it and I expect this year’s event to be even bigger.”
Wells-Broughton, a native Houstonian, further explains that her role as a college basketball coach extends far beyond simply playing basketball. That is why programs like the “pink zone” are important.
“I view myself as a mother first and a coach second,” YWB shared. “Programs like this bring education to my players on how to take care of themselves. This hits home for our community. I have players that know someone that’s suffering with it or have continued to fight their battle with it or win their battle. It’s the total package, being a young lady. It’s about nutrition, health and wellness, it’s a lifestyle that we try to teach.”
The sorority of women’s basketball coaches were personally affected by the deadly disease when it claimed one of there own last year when North Carolina State coach Kay Yow lost her fight to breast cancer.
“We lost an outstanding coach in Kay Yow to the disease a year ago,” coach Broughton recalled. “Kay battled to the end, just like she taught her players to battle on the court and it makes me proud to be apart of our program.”
In two years coach Wells-Broughton, a former Grambling standout, turned around a program sorely in need of a face lift and now has her team playing an exciting brand of basketball that is challenging the best teams in the conference.
“Last year when I came in we were at ground zero in terms of the program and we had to build a foundation,” YWB explained. “We had to instill a winning attitude in our team and get them to buy into our vision for the program. Last year we made the conference tournament for the first time in 4 years and won more games than they had in 6 years. Now that we’ve laid the foundation, now we’re in the process of building a program and we’re moving in a positive direction toward that goal.”
At press time the Lady Tigers are currently tied for second place in SWAC play with a record of 5-2 record (8-10 overall).
Dr. Jennie Bennett, Founder of Reconstruction of a Survivor, a breast cancer organization, has helped coordinate the upcoming event and she explains the partnership with women’s basketball.
“The sporting event is a way to draw people in audiences that we may not have been able to draw in before,” Dr. Bennett said. “Because African-American women are hit at a disproportionately higher rate than other groups it’s important that we catch women where we can to properly educate them. We feel a sporting where ladies come with their significant others or to see their children play is a great place to do this.”
The event will also feature breast cancer survivors in a ceremony at half time. For Bennett, who is a survivor, this is especially important.
“It’s important to see ladies that have conquered and overcome breast cancer,” Bennett explained. “The first thing that many women think when they get the diagnosis is am I going to die, who’s going to take care of my kids if they have kids. Many times the only experience they have with disease is someone who didn’t survive. I think its important for them to see other Women of Color who have survived the disease and are doing very well.”
The Mardi Gras theme is also important to Dr. Bennett for what it symbolizes.
“The Mardi Gras theme is significant because Mardi Gras is all about an opportunity for change and renewal. It’s also a celebration of life as well and that’s what we want to focus on, renewal a celebration of life after the diagnosis. It was actually coach Broughton’s idea to use the Mardi Gras theme and we feel it’s most appropriate.”
Tickets are $10 but if you wear something pink to the game, you will get in for only $5. There will be plenty of door prizes and giveaways.