October 8, 2013 – Colorado Springs, Colo. – Cancer, one word, two syllables and a waterfall of emotions and a life changing diagnosis. It is the second most common cause of death in the United States. As of January 1, 2012, the National Cancer Institute estimated that approximately 13.7 million living Americans had a history of the disease. With that, over 580,000 Americans are expected to succumb to cancer in 2013 alone. In the United States, we are losing nearly 1,600 loved ones every day.
For those who are diagnosed with the disease, it is literally a battle of life and death. For the field hockey community in Louisville, Ky, it was a battle that a hockey pioneer woman diagnosed with breast cancer was not going to have to face alone.
When Wendy Martin, a coach of 33 years who had helped to shape the face of field hockey in Louisville, was diagnosed with breast cancer, Amy Charasika created the Stick It to Cancer Field Hockey Tournament. The event was created to rally around Martin and all cancer victims by using the tournament to fundraise money for cancer research.
“It is amazing to have the entire field hockey community come together to not only create an exciting, competitive tournament, but also to help raise money for cancer research," said Charasika.
A decorated field hockey player in her own right, Charasika grew up in New York and went on to play Division I field hockey at Wake Forest University. She was named All-American, All-ACC, and one of Wake Forest’s Top 50 Athletes in the last 50 years. After taking her talents to Louisville, she is now head varsity field hockey coach at Kentucky Country Day School, along with being Associate Athletic Director and an Upper School Mathematics Teacher
Founded in 2011, the Stick It to Cancer Tournament began with eight Louisville high school teams. This year, the tournament has grown to include 12 teams and three different pools of games. In order to get the entire community involved, each school hosts one day of two games and is responsible for at least one day of administration. By doing this, they have the opportunity to show off their school, be the home team and get their friends and families more involved. The winners and runner-ups of pool play compete to determine a champion. DuPont Manual High School took home the 2013 title.
DuPont Manual was not the only victor. The tournament successfully raised an astounding $9,000 for cancer research, which was donated to the Brown James Graham Cancer Center in Louisville, Ky. While in previous years, Charasika bestowed the donations to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, she decided to go local in 2013 and support Louisville’s own state-of-the-art research center.
"Everyone knows someone who has cancer, has battled cancer or has lost his or her life due to cancer," said Charasika."This disease is omnipresent and we wanted to give money to a local Louisville hospital that specializes in cancer research. I absolutely love the sense of togetherness and accomplishment generated through the Stick it to Cancer Tournament.”
How is your team celebrating breast cancer awareness month? Let us know by logging onto Twitter and tweeting @USAFieldHockey your response!
American Cancer Society, (2013). Cancer Facts & Figures 2013. Atlanta, GA.
*Photos by Kim Marek and courtesy VYPE Magazine/Louisville