by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
The CIS Women’s Basketball Coaches Association have proudly announced the Shoot for the Cure campaign is up and running for the ninth straight year as a fundraising initiative for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and other related charities.
The Windsor Lancers annual Breast Cancer Awareness Day is schedule for Feb. 6, 2016 and both the Lancers basketball and volleyball programs will participate. Last year, Lancer women’s volleyball assistant coach Lynda Leckie was honoured prior to a match against Brock for her valiant battle against breast cancer, which she won over eight years ago.
The Lancer women’s basketball team also supported the cause by participating in the local Run for the Cure Oct. 5. The team made personal donations to the cause and ran to honour McMaster Marauders head coach Theresa Burns who is currently fighting.
The Shoot for the Cure campaign was the brainchild of Rod Gilpin, a long-time head coach of Bishop’s women’s program now in his eighth season as bench boss of the Gaiters’ men. The fundraising initiative has been an overwhelming success since it was first launched in the fall of 2007 with over $886,000 in donations accrued. During this 2015-16 season, all 47 CIS women’s basketball schools are set to participate in the program for the fifth year in a row.
Shoot for the Cure project manager, WBCA president and head coach at the University of New Brunswick Jeff Speedy said this was a very special year for CIS women’s basketball.
“We should easily pass the $1,000,000 mark for total money raised since the inception of this event nine years ago,” Speedy said.
At the 2015 CIS championship in Quebec City last March, the WBCA presented a cheque for $102,312.05 to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. An additional $23,049.71 was amassed by universities who elected to donate their fundraised money to local or provincial organizations, which brought the overall Shoot for the Cure total for the 2014-15 season to $125,361.76.
This year’s edition of Shoot for the Cure could prove to be the most memorable, as the program inches closer to the $1M plateau and launches a new coast-to-coast project, the Pink Ball Journey. The pink basketball will travel from the coast to coast, building momentum and fundraising support along the way from the University of Victoria to Memorial University of Newfoundland.
“The pink basketball will hit every CIS women’s basketball campus during the season,” said Speedy. “It will conclude with Memorial passing the ball off to UNB at the CIS women’s national championship tournament in March.”
Over the course of its cross-country journey, the pink Wilson basketball will be signed by every CIS head coach. As the five-time defending national champions, the Lancers local celebrity will no doubt be used to help shine a light on a very dark problem many families in Canada face each year.
“The journey symbolizes the struggle people are going through to fight this deadly disease and how we are all in this fight to cure cancer together,” Speedy said. “There will be some great photo opportunities with the ball every step of the way and everyone can follow the journey on Twitter, as we will be using the hashtags ‘#CoastToCoast’ and ‘#ShootForTheCure’ all season long.”
Once again this year, CIS schools will raise money through regular season games, tournaments and other special events. The first Shoot for the Cure games of 2015-16 were scheduled for Oct. 8 as part of the University of Calgary’s women and men’s home tournaments. The Manitoba Bisons will also host a Shoot for the Cure tournament this upcoming weekend to also kick off the fundraising campaign.
The 2016 CIS championship is set for March 17 to 20 at UNB in Fredericton.