19th-ranked gymnasts to flip for victory over Ball State, breast cancer


Freshman Nicolle Eastman performs on the barre at the first ever Beauty and the Beast competition on Feb. 8. The lady Flashes defeated Rutgers with a final score of 195.675-193.700. Photo by Jenna Watson.

Lily Flynn

The fight against breast cancer is an ongoing struggle, which affects more than 230,000 women in the United States each year. Well-known organizations such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the National Breast Cancer Foundation are dedicated to, not only raising awareness for the disease, but also fighting to find a cure. At 7 p.m. Friday the Kent State gymnastics team will once again join in the fight, hosting its sixth annual “Flip for the Cure” event.

“[The Flip for the Cure event] is certainly one that we felt was very important to go out there and do,” Flashes head coach Brice Biggin said. “A lot of other gymnastics teams are doing this every year.”

The team has helped aid those affected by raising more than $15,000 over the past five years. For the last three years, the proceeds benefited the J.D. Breast Cancer Foundation, a Cleveland-based foundation dedicated to assisting low-income women in the area with the cost of day-to-day living while undergoing cancer treatments.

“The money that we raise goes toward [the J.D. Breast Cancer Foundation’s] client list when they are in need of someone to help them pay rent [or pay for] child care while they’re going through treatment [or] transportation [and] utilities so their heat doesn’t get shut off,” assistant coach Sharon Sabin said. “They get their client list from the client’s list social workers, so it’s women that are really, really in need and the money stays local, so you really see it helping.”

In order to raise money, the team is selling pink T-shirts, raffling off pink item baskets and are accepting donations before, during and after the event. The team’s current fundraising goal is $6,000. In an effort to promote more fundraising, the gymnasts decided to make it into a competition.

“We split our team up into three groups or so and divided up downtown Kent into three different sections,” junior gymnast Marie Case said. “One group will go to one section of downtown Kent and the others to the other parts, and [we] try to see who can raise the most money or get the most donations.”

In addition to fundraising, the team is also helping show their support with a “pinkest person” contest that will take place during the event. Those felt to have the pinkest spirit will be brought in front of the crowd, and those in attendance will choose the winner.

As popularity for the event grows, other campus organizations are looking to get involved, such as campus Greek Life, the Kent State University Women’s Center and other athletic teams.

“We want all the students on [one] side, which they have done in the past,” Sabin said. “There will be a section for the sororities [and fraternities] to sit in and for the student-athletes. It should be a fun time.”

In between rotations, the team is looking to recognize those affected by breast cancer and those who are survivors. They will, then, be able to share their stories with the crowd.

“People will come down and just tell a little story about themselves, [such as] how many years [a] survivor they are and stuff like that,” Biggin said. “So it is an opportunity for them to get out and really tell their story.”

Senior gymnast Rachel Guida is one of many touched by the event — she never met her grandmother, who passed away from breast cancer.

“I would like to dedicate my routines to someone,” Guida said. “My grandmother had breast cancer. She passed away from [it], and I never got to meet her. I would like to dedicate this to her.”

While the excitement of the “Flip for the Cure” event can be distracting, the gymnasts are focused on the win. Currently ranked as No. 19 in the nation, the team is looking to not only show their support for breast cancer awareness but also to continue their undefeated stance in the Mid-American Conference this weekend against Ball State.

“We’re just continuing to work hard, day in and day out,” Biggin said. “We need to try to work on being consistent everyday. We need to work on trying to clean up little things here and there so our scores continue to rise. The girls [as a team] have a goal in mind that they want to accomplish, and Friday is going to be a big part of that.”

Contact Lily Flynn at [email protected].