Field hockey ‘Plays 4 the Cure’

Rachel Jones

Several Kent State field hockey players wear distinct accessories on game days.

Freshman midfielder Rebecca Lee carries a yellow bow on top of her bun, and junior defender Carla Johl stretches a white sweatband over her French-braided pigtails.

When the team (7-5, 2-1 Mid-American Conference) plays Missouri State (3-8, 0-2 MAC) at noon Saturday on Murphy-Mellis Field, every player will be wearing a bright pink bow.

“I took (Lee) to the store to pick up pink ribbon (Wednesday),” said junior defender Stephanie Arbelaez. “All of the freshmen are making us little bows.”

But the Flashes aren’t trying to make a fashion statement.

The team is participating in Play 4 the Cure, a national demonstration where field hockey players “play pink” to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation and raise awareness about breast cancer.

“It’s pretty well-known throughout the country in field hockey,” said Kent State assistant field hockey coach Heather Schnepf.

Wear pink on Sunday

Fans are encouraged to get involved Sunday by wearing pink themselves and making donations for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

“If you make a donation, you get a raffle ticket, and you can win a signed t-shirt from the team and a signed pink hockey ball,” Wiler said.

Several charities contact the field hockey team throughout the season to ask for the players’ participation. Kent State coach Kathleen Wiler said she felt Play 4 the Cure was an excellent program for the Flashes to join.

“We all know someone who’s been touched by cancer,” Wiler said. “I think it’s something that affects everyone in America. Since the opportunities are there to give back, we just want to do it.”

Schnepf, who previously participated in Play 4 the Cure when she coached at Princeton Day School in New Jersey, signed the Flashes up with the organization.

“Basically, there’s a free kit that you sign up for and they send to you,” Schnepf explained. “We just bring it out to the community, get it in the athletic department and make sure everyone is on the same page.”

Along with their pink bows, the Flashes will wear pink shirts during warm-ups and do a ceremonial pass back with a pink hockey ball before the game.

“We looked for pink socks, too, but didn’t find any yet,” Arbelaez added.

With October being breast cancer awareness month, a wide range of other athletes are wearing pink during games to show support and raise awareness.

“Other athletic teams on campus do it,” Arbelaez said. “It’s a great cause, and I’m excited to wear pink to represent it.”

And Kent State is not the only one with teams in pink.

“A lot of Division I schools do this,” Wiler said. “Even Hudson High School played on our turf (Wednesday), and they wore pink for breast cancer awareness.”

As an athlete, Arbelaez said she feels representing the cause is important for the community and sets an example for some of the younger fans at the games.

“I hope people take away that Kent State’s field hockey team is involved in this issue,” Arbelaez said. “We’re doing what we can to support the cause and get more people involved.”

The players’ parents are also involved with the cause, but one fan will be especially excited and proud of the team’s support for breast cancer awareness.

Who: Kent State v Ohio (6-7, 2-1 MAC)

When: Friday at 1 p.m.

Where: Murphy-Mellis Field

Who: Kent State v Missouri State

When: Sunday at 12 p.m.

Where: Murphy-Mellis Field

“One student athlete was saying she has people coming to visit her this weekend,” Wiler explained. “And she said ‘Oh my gosh! One of the ladies who is coming to visit me is a cancer survivor. This will be really neat for her to be there!’”

Schnepf said the players are so excited for Sunday that “they have been talking about it for probably a solid two weeks.”

“I think breast cancer affects a lot of families, and it’s good for our young ladies to see that they can make a difference,” Schnepf said. “Whether it’s through a sport or volunteering their time, anything we can do to change it, we should be doing.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].