Drake Women’s Basketball took home a special win in the Feb. 12 “Pink Out” game against Southern Illinois University.
“A win always feels great, but when the focus is on something way bigger than basketball it makes that win even more special,” said senior basketball player Mya Mertz. “Pink games are my favorite games because the atmosphere of the Knapp Center is so cool. Everybody is there for a bigger reason and seeing that many people come together to honor and show love to these fighters is amazing.”
The “Pink Out” game honors breast cancer survivors, those who are currently battling breast cancer and those who have passed away from breast cancer.
“I’m sure everyone probably knows someone who has been affected by breast cancer,” said senior cheerleader Megan Vorhies. “For me personally, the Pink Out game is especially important because my mom battled breast cancer a few years ago, so my mom is a breast cancer survivor.
Many of the players feel the significance of the game on the court while they play.
“The importance of the game does impact how we play because we want to be a source of genuine joy for 40 minutes,” Mertz said. “We want these inspirational people to feel honored and loved through what we do on the court.”
The “Pink Out” game allows both teams and their fans to put aside the competition for a moment and support something important together in “more of a unified community atmosphere,” according to Vorhies.
“I think cheering at Pink Out makes me feel even more proud to represent the Bulldogs,” Vorhies said.
And of course, the fans loved the atmosphere as well. For some fans, like first year student Axel Gallegos, this game was even more special since it was his first time at a game.
“It was my first time being on campus, thus the first time I was able to see the game in person,” Gallegos said. “I went with friends and it was a positive experience overall and I loved seeing the Drake community come together to support this cause.”
Because of the COVID restrictions, the “Pink Out” game wasn’t like the years before. There were less fans in the stands and instead of a guest speaker, there was a video presentation.
“I thought that the breast cancer awareness presentation was very important and special for showing that the basketball team and the Drake community supports those who have battled or are battling breast cancer,” Vorhies said. “I am glad that they were still able to recognize those who have battled breast cancer even though they were not able to walk out onto the court.”
That said, some also felt like the video presentation wasn’t as powerful as the in-person presentations of years past.
“I think that it was a little bit less emotional with the video than it normally is with people walking onto the court because a lot of us usually cry when the survivors walked out onto the court,” Vorhies said.
Either way, the Pink Out game is still very special to the Drake community.
“It gives us an opportunity to shed light on such an important cause,” Mertz said. “We feel so blessed to honor those who fought and continue to fight. Being able to provide a source of joy for men and women going through tough times is incredibly special and definitely not something we take lightly.”