Story Links

By Allison Crowe, Virginia Media Relations

They always look good in orange and blue, but tonight, the UVa women’s basketball team and its fans almost looked better in pink. During Thursday’s NC State-Virginia match-up, John Paul Jones Arena was awash in various shades of pink, as part of the Kay Yow/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Cancer Fund’s “Think Pink” initiative. The fund, named in honor of NC State head coach Kay Yow, and created in partnership with the WBCA, aims to raise money for breast cancer research and unite fans, players and coaches in the fight against cancer.

This particular game seemed quite the appropriate outlet for the Fund’s message, as Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan and Yow have not only both enjoyed storied careers as coaches but have also battled cancer. Ryan, who is coaching her 31st season at Virginia, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer eight years ago. After undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments at the UVa Cancer Center, Ryan was declared cancer-free six weeks later. Yow, who is in her 33rd season as head coach at NC State, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987. She has had two remissions, one in 2004 and one last year.

“I think that these games are really great, and I really appreciate being a part of the Think Pink’ game here because it is obviously something very close to my heart and something I really have a passion for, whether it is the raising of money or creating a better education for people about how to take better care of themselves,” Yow said.

Hoping to recognize these two extraordinary women, as well as all those who have fought and are currently fighting cancer, fans at JPJA were encouraged to wear pink to Thursday’s game, and they definitely “thought pink.” Some donned pink fuzzy antennas; others added pink flair with feather boas. The Virginia and NC State players sported special shooting shirts, Virginia’s pink with white lettering, and NC State’s white with pink lettering. Pink ribbons perched proudly on many lapels, and the players even accented with pink shoelaces.

Ryan opted for a pale pink cable knit sweater and pink ribbon Nikes. Yow was similarly dressed. A halftime video presentation featured Ryan thanking the UVa Health System Cancer Unit and encouraging those in attendance to remember the importance of the message behind the “Think Pink” initiative: to never give up in the fight against cancer.

Tonight, united not just in their love of women’s basketball, but also in their commitment to raising cancer awareness and finding a cure, both Ryan and Yow made that message impossible to forget.

“Our whole purpose in this is to spread awareness about cancer, about the different treatments, and trying to find a cure for it,” Ryan said. “I was really proud of the event.”

Print Friendly Version