Women’s basketball team hosts Spin-A-Thon
Courtney Becker | Friday, February 12, 2016
The Notre Dame women’s basketball team’s Pink Zone fundraiser kicks off Friday at noon the 12-hour Spin-A-Thon at the Rockne Memorial to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research.
North Carolina State head coach Kay Yow, who died in 2009 from breast cancer, started the Pink Zone in 2007 as a competition to see which women’s basketball team could raise the most money for breast cancer research, and Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team has continued to make the event its signature cause.
“It originally started as a competition for all of women’s basketball, and we just kept going with it,” Sharla Lewis, special events coordinator for the women’s basketball team, said. “They’ve renamed it to Play 4Kay, but we keep it at Pink Zone because all of our fund doesn’t go to the Kay Yow [Cancer Fund.] Seventy-five percent goes to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, then we have five percent that goes to Riverbank Cancer Services and then the other 20 percent goes to Kay Yow.”
Tabbitha Ashford, fitness and instructional program coordinator for RecSports, said the Spin-A-Thon is a more recent addition to the Pink Zone, which originally started with the Pink Game played every year by the women’s basketball team.
“This is our fifth [Spin-A-Thon], but I believe women’s basketball has been involved six or seven years now,” she said. “Originally it was 24 hours, noon to noon, Friday through Saturday. … We keep it very basic, so this year it’s $12, but if you want to ride one hour or 12, you can do whatever you prefer.”
Ashford said there is always something to occupy the bikers’ time.
“Some of those hours are, ‘Hey, we’ve got an instructor coming to teach a class, come get a workout in.’ And then other hours are simply, ‘Hey, come sit on the bike, we’ve got a movie going on,’” Ashford said. “I find the community here is really great about just wanting to be a part of it.”
Lewis said in addition to the players who stop in at the Spin-A-Thon, women’s basketball head coach Muffet McGraw is active in the event.
“[Coach McGraw] is going to be there at noon on Friday. She looks at this as a way for her to give back, and a lot of times it’s hard for her to get out there, especially during the season, but this is a way for her to be able to give back,” Lewis said. “It’s amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it, and people love Coach McGraw, and Coach McGraw loves and appreciates her fans.”
Senior guard Hannah Huffman said she appreciates the Spin-A-Thon as an opportunity to support the team’s fans and thank them for their support throughout the season.
“I just think it’s a really great way to give back, because usually the people who are on the bikes either know someone who’s had breast cancer or had breast cancer themselves,” she said. “It’s just really awesome that we get to go encourage them. A lot of them are fans too, and they come and support us, and we’re just playing basketball, and they’re really doing something for a great cause, so it’s really nice that we’re able to go out there and encourage them as well.”
In addition to money raised through donations and participation in the Spin-A-Thon, the team is raising money through a fundraiser with Blaze Pizza on Eddy Street this year, selling merchandise at games and auctioning items donated by various members of the Notre Dame community, Lewis said.
“I’m just amazed about how we support each other,” she said. “We have a Bible that’s personalized by [University president Fr. John] Jenkins. It’s amazing how people see the cause and want to be able to help and participate.”
Ashford said the highlight of the Pink Zone, though, is the Pink Game against Miami at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“A lot of [students] may come to the Spin-A-Thon, but I think they miss out not going to the game,” she said. “It’s not the same as every other game, and it really brings everything together.”
Huffman echoed that sentiment and said the Pink Game is now one of the games she looks forward to on the schedule every year.
“It’s definitely one of the coolest games,” she said. “I think it’s really cool to see so many fans come and support such a great cause. The gym looks awesome as well. It’s just really cool to see the kind of support that they’re not only giving us but [also] giving a great cause.”
Lewis said the community’s support of the team and people battling breast cancer is clear at the Pink Game.
“We ask that the cancer survivors come down, and we wrap around the baseline of the court and we either have our boxers or our rugby team come out, and they give the survivors roses while we have our halftime performance,” she said.
Huffman said the Pink Zone fundraiser makes her understand her position as a student-athlete, the support of the fans and the cause.
“I think sometimes we take for granted the platform that we’re able to be on as student-athletes, and I think that realizing that you can make a difference and do something so great is definitely satisfying, and it makes you realize it’s just bigger than basketball,” she said.