While the Seton Hall women’s basketball team heads into the home stretch of its season with hopes of rising in the Big East, its eyes are also set on another goal that goes beyond the game of basketball.
During the month of February, Seton Hall and the Big East are pairing up with the Kay Yow Cancer Fund to raise money in support of the fight against cancers that commonly affect women through the “Play4Kay Free Throw Challenge.” Fans can pledge money per each free throw made by the Pirates in February whether it be a penny, dollar or more, with the program’s goal to reach $2,500.
The free throw challenge is inspired by former NC State women’s basketball coach and Hall of Famer, Sandra Kay Yow. Coach Yow was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 and battled the disease until it took her life in 2009.
Her 38-year career featured more than 700 victories, 20 NCAA Tournament appearances and plenty of postseason success. Despite her on-court accolades, Yow wanted to make her lasting impression off the court by raising awareness.
Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella remembers facing off against Yow in the preseason NIT back when he was head coach of Iona from 2002-13 and wants to ensure that the Seton Hall community is raising money and awareness in her honor.
“If we can make everyone aware to self-test and self-screen yourself, and go once a year and take the test… it’s going to save someone’s life, and at the end, that’s what this is all about,” Bozzella said.
According to The American Cancer Society, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their life. Bozzella did not shy from the harsh reality of how common it is for women to get one of the cancers that the Kay Yow Cancer Fund targets. He noted how it is possible that someone involved in the program today will be diagnosed one day and used that to stress the importance of awareness.
“I want to go to all my women’s weddings and see all their children one day,” Bozzella said.
Coming into February, Seton Hall was averaging 12 made free throws per game. In a way that would make Yow proud, the Pirates have gotten to the stripe more often since the pledge period began, making 30 free throws through its first two games. With five games remaining, there is still time for the women’s basketball team to add to its contribution.
The “Play4Kay Pink Game” on Feb. 23 against last season’s Big East Tournament champion Marquette will be the penultimate game for the Pirates during the month and a chance to honor Yow further.
“I’m a big proponent of cancer research, my mom is battling lung cancer as well now,” Bozzella said. “So, maybe we save a fan’s life or we save one of our player’s lives or we save a manager’s life, you know, by making them aware. It’s such an important thing for me, and day for me, just for awareness. That’s why I’m excited to do it [the Play4Kay Game on Feb. 23] and go all in on it.
Keith Egan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ Keith_egan10.