On the first Friday night in October, as the Mountain View High School football team took to the field, some people in the audience cheered, while others quietly had tears well up in their eyes.
The entire team wore new black football jerseys with pink numbers and an embroidered pink ribbon patch. Their socks were pink, also with the same patch embroidered on them. Their helmets had the logo replaced with a pink Mountain Lions’ logo. On the upper back of jerseys, where a name should be, the words, Believe, Family, Strength, and Caring could be found on various players.
All this was to show recognition and spread awareness for breast cancer.
The team, who didn’t know they were going to be wearing the jerseys until only hours before the game, sat down and talked in the locker room. Before donning the uniforms head coach Clarence “Bam” McRae spoke to his team about what it meant to wear pink in October.
“I wanted them to know, when you put that pink on, you know what you are standing for,” he said. “If you are standing for that cause or you are fighting for that cause, you are going to put your best effort forward. You are going to be as good as you possibly can. Because you aren’t just representing yourself, you are representing a whole band of people who are fighting that cause.”
Understanding that almost everyone knows someone who is battling or has battled breast cancer, McRae wanted to make sure his players eyes were open to life beyond high school.
“It helps them become prepared for what they are going to see in life and the obstacles as well as the triumphs,” McRae said. “I see kids these days walking around looking for what someone can do for them. It is about the ‘me’ mentality. So my ploy is I am trying to get them selfless. I tell them, ‘it’s not about you. Don’t think about you. Think about your teammates. Think about somebody else. Because if you do what’s best for someone else, and you’re on the same team, it will be what is best for you.’”
Beyond the game, the team also plans to walk in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Tucson. And aside from having his football team show its support for breast cancer, McRae has his team volunteer at events like the AIDSWALK Tucson.
“At the end of the day, we want to get our message out there that we are bigger than the football program. We are part of this community. Within this community, which is part of our team, there are people battling cancer.”
For one game only, the Mountain View Lions wore their pink jerseys. The jerseys will later be auctioned off at mvlion12thman.com. With the money raised from the auction, half of it will go towards breast cancer support or research, while the other half will be put back into the school’s football program.
“Football is just a game. You are going to win games, and you are going to lose games, but the game of life is forever,” McRae said.