Shooting for a cure

October is recognized as breast cancer awareness month and the CIS Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) is continuing their support for the cause with the fourth annual Shoot for the Cure initiative.

Over the last three CIS seasons, the WBCA has raised over $230,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The 2009-10 season events alone helped to raise just shy of $100,000, a record amount for the event. Organizers are hoping to set a new record during the 2010-11 season.

The Bison women’s basketball team did their part this year, hosting the Shoot for the Cure Garbonzo’s Invitational non-conference tournament this past weekend at the Investors Group Athletic Centre.

Bisons forwards Colleen Dorrian and Vanessa De Vries were elected to be the driving force for this year’s Shoot for the Cure event, one of several planned across the country by the WBCA. Over the course of the weekend the team collected all the proceeds from the tournament, which will be donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Bison Sports also offered limited edition $10 pink shirts to help support the cause.

Scheduled one week before the Bisons kick off the Canada West women’s basketball regular season, the tournament included players from all across Canada. The University of Concordia Stingers, the University of Regina Cougars and the Senior Women’s All-Star team, in addition to the University of Manitoba, all took part in the weekend competition.

Besides the WBCA, there have been many other high-profile fundraising initiatives taken up by professional sports leagues throughout the month of October. The NFL’s “A Crucial Catch” campaign focused on the importance of annual breast cancer screening and featured players and coaches wearing pink equipment and sideline gear during games, all of which were auctioned off online through NFL Auction with the majority of proceeds benefitting the American Breast Cancer Society. Closer to home, the Blue Bombers staged a similar campaign, auctioning off pink gloves worn at practice by players online through the CFL Auctions website.

Besides raising money for a great cause, the tournament provided the first-year players on the women’s basketball team with game experience. On Friday, the Bisons played the Concordia Stingers, who took an early lead and were able to coast to a 74-49 win.

The next day the Bisons played the Cougars in what was the marquee event of the tournament, “Pack the Place Pink” night. Those in attendance were strongly encouraged to wear pink to show their support for breast cancer research. Sadly, after the Cougars elected to wear pink in their first game against the Senior Women’s All-Star team on Friday, neither team wore pink during the Saturday evening game. The Bisons would end up losing that game as well, by a score of 71-51.

Manitoba is the first team this year to have hosted a Shoot for a Cure event. Further WBCA breast cancer awareness events will continue throughout the conference year, coming to the University of Winnipeg in early November and travelling to Calgary, where the Dinos will host the Bisons, in early February.

The Bison women’s basketball team will kick off their regular season at home on Oct. 22 against inter-city rivals, the University of Winnipeg Wesmen.