GCHSAA ‘Thinks Pink’ for Breast Cancer Research

The Msgr. McClancy H.S. girls’ varsity basketball team was among nine diocesan programs to compete in the GCHSAA’s first-ever Think Pink weekend to support breast cancer research. (Photo: Courtesy GCHSAA)

We all know someone who has been touched by cancer. That’s why no matter how small, any action to raise awareness could help save a life.

As part of the league’s yearlong 50th anniversary celebration, our local GCHSAA hosted a special “Think Pink” weekend of basketball games to support breast cancer survivors and those valiantly battling the disease.

Junior varsity girls’ teams participated Saturday, Feb. 5 at Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, while the girls’ varsity teams took to the floor Sunday, Feb. 6 at St. John’s Prep, Astoria.

A handful of archdiocesan and Long Island teams joins nine schools from our Brooklyn Diocese to make the event possible: Holy Cross H.S., Flushing; Christ the King H.S., Middle Village; Nazareth H.S., East Flatbush; The Mary Louis Academy (TMLA), Jamaica Estates; Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge; St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows; Msgr. McClancy H.S., East Elmhurst; Archbishop Molloy; and St. John’s Prep.

“I was very excited to hold these events because so many family members of GCHSAA athletes and coaches, as well as some coaches themselves, have been affected by breast cancer,” said GCHSAA President Denise Hillig. “During our 50th anniversary, we wanted to do something that really shows the resiliency of women and how hard they fight. I am hoping this will become an annual event.”

The teams all rallied around the cause of supporting breast cancer research. According to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, breast cancer is the second-most common form of cancer in women as well as the second-leading cause of cancer death among women – both behind skin cancer.

Each year in New York City, about 970 women die from breast cancer, and about 6,300 women are newly diagnosed. Since many women do not experience any signs or symptoms, the key is early detection, which can help prevent breast cancer from spreading to other parts of the body.

The GCHSAA players and coaches did their part to raise awareness about women 40 years and older to get routine mammograms. Breast is easier to treat if discovered early, so a mammogram can truly be a lifesaving medical screening.

As part of Think Pink weekend, the GCHSAA welcomed back former varsity and junior varsity girls’ basketball players to speak to their alma maters in between games. The guest list included Shiclasia Brown and Niya Johnson from Nazareth; Amanda Locasio Desalvo and Jessica Wasserfall from Christ the King; Kerri White, who also serves as the varsity girls’ head coach, and Dominique McLean from St. Francis Prep; Nyasha Irizarry and Aryn McClure from Archbishop Molloy; and assistant girls’ coach Jasmine Brunson from TMLA.

“Breast cancer awareness is an extremely important cause to rally behind because we see it affecting so many people we love and care about every day,” said White, who played as a shooting guard at Archbishop Molloy from 2004-2008 and is now in her eighth season as the Prep’s head coach.

“It puts a lot of things into perspective as you see the people you love go through such a tough battle every day. While you admire their strength and resiliency, you also hope that their story inspires the next person to get screened. I hope this event will spark conversations among our players and their families to get checked, as well as show support to those who are crushing cancer one day at a time.”

For TMLA varsity sophomore center Maia Charles, playing in the Think Pink game took on an even greater meaning.

“For me, it’s such an important cause,” she said. “Personally, my mother had breast cancer, and I play for her so I can make her proud. Just seeing how she’s pushed through makes me want to push through and spread awareness.”

By thinking pink, these local student-athletes, their coaches, and their families did their part to continue raising important awareness about a disease that’s curable if detected early.

If you’re a woman over age 40, consider getting a mammogram to make sure you’re staying healthy.

Contact Jim Mancari via email at