Joining the fight against cancer
Indian Head High School is doing something truly special.
Article: Brady Lang – Sports Writer
Indian Head – a town of approximately 1,800 people – has joined forces with Assiniboia in the past few years to create a basketball tournament with a great cause.
The “Heartbreaker Classic” has now been functional since the February of 2011 and is put on annually around Valentine’s Day to raise money for community members that don’t have the necessary means to pay for their hospital bills. The school hosts senior and junior girls basketball and in these past years the event has sky rocketed and also helped grow school spirit, said Indian Head’s Head Coach Dave Clark.
“The first time we ran this in the February of 2011, we were a school that lacked a lot of school spirit and community involvement,” said Clark. “For the very first time, everybody bought in to something. We explained it to all of the kids, why we were doing this and the significance behind it. We went from a school where no one really cared to everyone bought in. We really need to thank Assiniboia for kick-starting the event.”
Assiniboia’s Head Coach Al Wandler has been the man behind everything in the Cancer Awareness tournaments around southern Saskatchewan, but all Wandler said it took was a heavy heart and a lazy July afternoon that started the movement just five years ago.
“Personally, I’ve lost many relatives to numerous types of cancers,” Wandler said. “I was looking through a catalogue on a lazy July afternoon and I saw the pink uniforms and I thought that it would be really cool for our girls to give back in that way. We approached our SRC and they wanted to build a legacy. They had the funds and it was a great cause, so they knew it could be their legacy they could leave behind.
“I’ve always believed in my team to be something bigger than themselves. The community always supports them and that they should always have something to give back. Youth gets painted with the image that ‘they’re all bad’. We want to do something of this nature to show that positive side, and that the kids can go home and say ‘I was part of that, I can do it again.’”
Now into Wandler’s fifth year, he has estimated that the games have now racked up approximately $30,000 and it is growing at a rate in which he can hardly keep up with. The special thing that the coach has now set up is the passing down of the pink jerseys.
“I built up a lot of good relationships with the coaches in the area and we were close to the Fillmore squad and I told them, ‘we want to make this big, and we want to buy you some pink uniforms.’ We made it clear that the catch was when they had the necessary funds they’d go out and buy the next team these uniforms,” Wandler said. “The Fillmore coach then asked if they could wear the Assiniboia uniforms the following weekend to show fans that the Rockets were behind them. Fillmore then bought for Estevan, and on to Indian Head.”
The passing down of the pink jerseys has now reached towns such at Clavet, Saskatoon, Wynyard, Weyburn, and of course Indian Head and Assiniboia. With no signs of slowing down, even players have seen the positive change within the community and absolutely love playing in the positive atmosphere of the tournament.
“Everyone’s aware of the cancer affecting the community,” said Indian Head senior Sherry Hahn. “So, putting this on to help people in the community who can’t afford to pay for their treatments alone is really special.”
“The atmosphere is awesome,” another Indian Head senior, Andrea Mayer said. “Having the community out here and supporting us. Cheering us on for a great cause is truly special.”
This event shows no signs of slowing down and will continue making differences not only in Assiniboia and Indian Head, but also all across Sasaktchewan.