By Alex Norman
It’s been a rough go of it for college athletics in recent weeks.
From a Rutgers basketball coach videotaped throwing basketballs at his players heads while yelling gay slurs, to an Auburn football program once again accused of breaking the rules to win the 2010 BCS title, to the head of Pac-12 officials offering bonuses if an official gave a coach a technical foul, some good news would certainly be a good thing.
With that in mind, I give you the Tennessee Volunteers baseball team.
On Thursday, April 4th, the Vols shaved their heads to raise funds to fight cancer.
“This is a positive. I’m a cancer survivor and I’ve seen both sides of it,” said Chase Jones, a former North Carolina baseball player and founder of the “Vs. Cancer Foundation.” “I’ve seen the clout that student-athletes have. The fact that they are doing something about childhood cancer shows that it is a positive. These guys are using their platform in the best way possible.”
“I think it is a special deal, and a special deal for a great cause,” said Vols head coach Dave Serrano. “Our team was all the way behind this. Cancer affects so many people, it has affected me and it has affected some of our players with relatives and loved ones. And it is the least we can do to bring notice to cancer for the young kids. And if we can do anything to help… if we can make a difference in one person’s life, it is well worth it.”
At press time, the Vols had already brought in $2700 for the cause. Half of those funds will go to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. The other half go to the Vs. Cancer Foundation to support cancer research nationwide.
“As a team this year we have really worked hard to try to get out in the community to make ourselves known as great guys, not just ballplayers,” said Vols catcher Ethan Bennett, whose mother had been diagnosed with blood cancer. “Any way we can help in the community is an awesome feeling.
Understandably there was some trepidation for this experience for some of the players. Since most had never shaved their heads before, they didn’t know exactly how their domes would look without some coverage. One player said he’d leave a little hair up top because “I have a girlfriend and I’d like to keep her!”
“I was worried to begin with, and then when I saw the first guy get a “no-guard” I was really worried,” admitted Vols pitcher Eric Martin. “Some of the guys are worried about their hair never growing back… maybe this will be their last haircut. I think that is the biggest thing, guys worried about never getting another haircut!”
“I’m happily married so I don’t have to worry about how I look,” joked Serrano. “But some of these guys are still looking for dates, so I would worry if I was them too…”
For more information about the Vs. Cancer Foundation, please visit vs-cancer.org. Donations will be accepted throughout the remainder of the baseball season at http://tennessee.vs-cancer.org/.