Cyclones victory is about more than final score

David Merrill

With Hilton Coliseum becoming a light shade of pink for the Women’s Basketball Coaching Association (WBCA) “Pink Zone” contests, one look around the arena would show that there is more to this game than the 61-53 ISU victory.

The game against Kansas State was one of many games across the women’s basketball landscape that will be dressed in shades of pink to raise awareness and profits for breast cancer research.

For the occasion, Iowa State wore their home white uniforms, but replaced the red lettering and trim with pink. Kansas State wore pink base uniforms with purple lettering and trim, and both teams sported glossy pink Nikes for the game.

The Cyclones’ victory over Kansas State gave some fans a chance to reflect on winning one of life’s greatest battles.

“I had breast cancer two years ago,” said Kathy Walker, a long-time fan of ISU women’s basketball and administrative assistant at the university. “When you’re going through it and you see all this support, it feels good to know that there is always someone there for you.”

During a media timeout in the first half, a video taped message from coach Bill Fennelly came on the large video screen above the court. In the video, Fennelly announced that the team would be auctioning off autographed memorabilia with the profits going toward breast cancer research.

This gesture that meant a lot to Walker, who is a big supporter of Fennelly.

“I think it’s really great that he gets the girls involved,” Walker said. “I know he is very personable with those girls and I think it’s an excellent way to raise money for the cause.”

Rita Bauman, a resident of Ames for 50 years, was also in attendance. She is also a breast cancer survivor that has seen the women’s basketball crowds expand from the hundreds to the thousands in Hilton.

“It’s great to see all this support for the cancer drives,” Bauman said.

Bauman beat breast cancer approximately 20 years ago, when there was a lack of medical knowledge and research available compared to today. Bauman considers herself one of the more fortunate breast cancer survivors. She acknowledged that she never got really sick and the treatments at the time worked favorably.

Despite the success, it was still a hard pill to swallow when she received the news.

“I felt numb,” Bauman said. “There’s not much you can do about it except for go to the doctor and do what they say and keep thinking positive.”

She credits the support of her family and friends for helping her through the tough time.

In 2010, the American Cancer Society estimated that more than 270,00 women died from some sort of cancer in 2010. 40,500 of those cases were from breast cancer.

Fennelly was honored to be part of something that can transcend the game of basketball.

“It’s one of those moments where you can use your sport as a vehicle to bring an initiative to things,” Fennelly said. “I think awareness is always a huge thing and we all want to help and impact beyond the court. This is a way for our players to do that.”