Girls Basketball hosts cancer awareness Game

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Girls basketball hosted a game against Ridley High School on Jan. 30 to raise cancer awareness after being impacted personally.

The game was especially important to the team and coaches, as the cancer awareness event honored their beloved JV coach Pete Ricci, who passed away from cancer earlier in the season. The team had hosted several breast cancer awareness events before, but this game was different: instead of a traditional pink-out, team members and coaches used purple to represent all cancers and make the event more personal. 

Ricci had taught at the district for 23 years and knew many of his players since elementary school. One such player is Annie Nikolic, who is now a senior and varsity team captain. She and many of her friends had gotten to know Ricci well over the years and appreciated the opportunity to honor him.

“This night means a lot for us because (Ricci) was not just our coach but also our best friend. He was always there for us, so this game seriously means the world to us,” Nikolic said.

The team spirit and support from friends and families reflected the school’s tightly knit community. Nikolic appreciated friends’ consolations when Ricci passed and emphasized the value of the support.

“It’s just so great that we live in this community, (and) it’s the best thing ever that we have each other,” Nikolic said.

Varsity coach AJ Thompson explained that in addition to honoring and remembering Ricci, the game showed support to anyone who needs it in battling cancer.

“We don’t want to make anybody feel uncomfortable; we don’t make anybody sad. We just want to honor those that are currently battling it and celebrate those who have lost their battle with cancer and make sure that everybody knows that if you’re going through it right now or you have somebody that you love going through it now, that you know we’re thinking of them and we’re here for them and we’re fighting with them,” Thompson said.

The event’s spirit was apparent despite the team’s loss to Ridley. After a short speech to inform the crowd of the event’s purpose, many people held up signs with names of loved ones that they supported through their battle with cancer.

Though breast cancer awareness games are common among sporting events, the girls’ basketball team, having experienced the loss of its former coach, has a newer outlook on future games. Though there are limits to the kinds of themes events can have, the coaches are considering broadening the types of cancers their teams are spreading awareness for.

“We’ve always done it, and (it) just felt like, at times, it was just something that we do to honor people, and we didn’t necessarily have a personal grasp on it. Now it’s obviously a lot more personal, and the girls (have) really battled throughout the year, and we are there for each other,” Thompson said.