February 4, 2014

Scoring Goals Worth More Than A Point

By Emily Correia
Special to GoHolyCross.com

Like many sports teams at Holy Cross, the hockey programs hold their annual breast cancer awareness games to raise money and support for the cause. Beyond the pink game, 2013 graduate Brandon Nunn thought that there was a little more they could do. The team had previously worked with Pink Revolution during the Pink the Rink games in the two years before, so Nunn reached out to them to engineer a way to raise more money for such a great cause. During Nunn's junior year, 2011-2012, Power Play Points for Pink was born. "With our rigorous schedule between hockey and schoolwork, it was tough for us to spend time and get involved in the community," said Nunn. So the project took off. The men's, women's and club hockey teams began raising money for the project simply by playing in their games. For every power play goal scored at home, they raised money for the cause from pledges by their donors. During Nunn's senior year, the Holy Cross men's power play unit scored 23 goals at home and the organization raised over $18,000 for the cause, more than quadruple the $4,000 during the first year. The organization also accepts one-time donations, and does various single-donation campaigns during the season as well.

Though Nunn graduated last year, he passed the torch down to junior Tommy Dwyer (Ridgefield, Conn.) and sophomore Matt Vidal (Manorville, N.Y.) to keep the tradition alive. "I knew that I wanted to get involved with an organization at Holy Cross that raised breast cancer awareness," Vidal reflected. "When Brandon asked me if I wanted to be a part of his Power Play Points for Pink organization, I knew it was the opportunity I was looking for." Breast cancer hit close to home with Vidal as his mother is a two-time survivor and his aunt was recently diagnosed. For Dwyer and Vidal, taking over the organization meant more than just to keep the organization going. Dwyer recalled, "Brandon put in so much effort and had such a huge amount of success in his two years running Power Play Points for Pink. Matt and I knew the great opportunity he presented us, so we want to replicate the results he had." 

Teamed up with the women's program and the club team, the organization works to raise as much money as they can for the cause. All three teams share Nunn's original passion for raising money for the fight against breast cancer. The organization created a committee with two members from each of the three participating teams to help with the collaborative efforts. Nunn noted that by having a committee with people representing all different years, the program can continue to grow and thrive during the coming years. Sophomore women's hockey player Kati Goguen (Acton, Mass.) appreciates how closely the teams work to unite for a bigger cause. "My favorite thing about Power Play Points for Pink is having the opportunity to give back for a cause that has affected so many lives, just by playing a sport that I, and the rest of the members, all share a passion for," she said. "Being able to work with the other teams creates a very supportive atmosphere here on campus because we are all fighting to cure breast cancer through the sport, all wanting each other to be just as successful as we are ourselves." Senior captain Amanda Gallagher (Park Ridge, Ill.) also noted that the collaboration between the three teams on campus really makes the program unique. "All our teams experience both triumph and defeat throughout our seasons," she said. "It is easy to get caught up in the chaos of our own individual teams. However, having Power Play Points for Pink allows our teams to step away from our individual successes by working together to support women fighting breast cancer by simply scoring goals, something we all love to do."

Gallagher recalled that she takes particular interest on the special teams situations during games now that these particular goals contribute to the success of the program. "Every time I attend a home hockey event, whether I am on the ice or not, I take special notice of the power play chances knowing that every goal scored makes a difference to those women who are fighting breast cancer," Gallagher said. Gallagher is joined by teammate Goguen on the committee. Goguen also looks for the value of the goals that they score over the course of the season. "The most important thing about the Power Play Points for Pink organization is that it's not just one event or game where we raise money," she shared. "This organization continues throughout the season. It gives players more incentive to look outside themselves and reflect on other things going on around us, and the fact that scoring a goal makes a difference to those women who are fighting breast cancer is very important." Club hockey senior captain Eric Sherman shared that his favorite part of the program was also the far reaching impacts of their game. He said that the best thing about Power Play Points for Pink is, "Scoring power play goals that mean much more than just a point on the scoreboard." 

"I think the most important thing about having an organization like this is that people and students come together for a great cause," club hockey senior assistant captain Tyler Bao noted. "Yes, Holy Cross is a small school but rarely do you see everyone come together for something, but for this it's all-around support." Sherman also believes that this organization is so important to campus because it gets the students and the fans involved in raising money and awareness for breast cancer. The players involved with the program all share the notion that this program is about more than just their teams' involvement. Nunn remembers that, "My favorite thing about Power Play Points for Pink is seeing our school bonding together with the Worcester community in raising money for a great cause. This all culminates at our Pink the Rink game every year in which members from the Worcester community, many of them donors, come to watch our game in which the team auctions off game worn pink jerseys. It is always sold out, with major support coming from the students who have almost all purchased Pink the Rink t-shirts. There are always breast cancer survivors who sing the national anthem and drop the ceremonial puck, and hearing the stories from these incredible women is truly inspirational." The atmosphere of Pink the Rink really resonates with Bao. "The stands and the rink are packed, everyone is cheering and willing to donate because they want to help and contribute to such a successful organization," he recalls as an important part to the success of the event. "Everyone is either wearing the t-shirts designed for the event or just pink in general and it brings a smile to your face knowing that just by doing that alone, it helps."

Gallagher also believes that by participating in this program she is doing something that is far bigger than herself or her teammates. "It's not a secret that I love playing hockey," she continued. "I've been blessed with the opportunity to play since I was eight years old and a healthy body that has allowed me to do so. I realize that others have not been given those same blessings and in a blink of an eye my life could change, similar to a woman who has just been told she has breast cancer. Participating in Power Play Points for Pink makes me appreciate my health and the blessings I've been given." Power Play Points for Pink has also made an imprint on Goguen's life. "I just wanted to say how grateful I am to be a part of Power Play Points for Pink," she said. "Hockey has always been a huge part of my life, and Power Play Points for Pink has given me the opportunity to do something I love, while fighting for a bigger cause." Vidal also agreed that this program really bonded the team's love for the sport with the ability to use their hockey skills to bring success off the ice as well. "My favorite part is how by playing a sport we are able to impact the lives of those affected by breast cancer," Vidal mentioned. "Not only are we helping the team win when we score our home power play goals but at the same time we are also raising money for those touched by breast cancer which is pretty special."

Breast cancer has affected everyone either directly or indirectly during their lives. The members of the committee each have a distinct reason why they support the cause.

Why do you pink?

"I pink because it is a great organization to be a part of because breast cancer is something that is tough to go through, I want to help everyone in need because cancer is a struggle and it's great to see the faces on past patients or present patients when we tell them how much money is raised." Tyler Bao, senior assistant captain, club hockey.

"I pink because I hope our efforts will help support and encourage those fighting an illness that hits close to home for nearly everyone." Eric Sherman, senior captain, club hockey.

"I pink because I want to do whatever I can to give to others who have encountered health challenges." Amanda Gallagher, senior captain, women's ice hockey.

"I pink because I believe that this is a great way to lend a hand to those that need and deserve it and work with other teams on campus." Kati Goguen, sophomore forward, women's ice hockey.

"I pink because when I was a little kid, my godmother passed away from breast cancer and members of my family have battled various types of cancer so it's close to the heart for both me and Matt." Tommy Dwyer, junior forward, men's ice hockey.

"I pink because breast cancer has touched my family and I have witnessed what patients have to go through to fight cancer and would like to help raise money so that others have a better chance of beating this disease." Matt Vidal, sophomore forward, men's ice hockey.

On Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 the women's ice hockey team will kick off the pink weekend with its Pink the Rink game at 7:00 p.m. against Nichols. The women's team will be wearing pink jerseys and continuing to raise money for Pink Revolution. On Saturday, Feb. 15, the Holy Cross men's hockey program will host its fifth annual "Pink the Rink" at the Hart Center during its game versus Connecticut at 7:00 p.m. The team will be wearing a special edition white and pink jersey to show its support for breast cancer awareness. The jerseys will be auctioned off throughout the game with all proceeds going to Pink Revolution, which is an alliance of dedicated individuals with a unified commitment to those touched by breast cancer. Its mission is to support early detection and prevention strategies, fund clinical research advancements and promote survivorship programs in Central Mass. through its affiliation with the UMass Memorial Comprehensive Breast Center. A ceremonial puck drop will feature Nancy Vidal, mother of Vidal, and a breast cancer survivor. Also a limited amount of special edition "Pink the Rink" t-shirts will be available for purchase along with a chuck-a-puck competition during an intermission and a 50/50 raffle. 

For more information and to donate go here: http://www.powerplaypointsforpink.com/.