At the Girls’ Varsity Soccer game at Hamilton Stadium last Friday, it was all about the cause. That is why, on this night, every Saints player ditched their usual Columbia blue uniform shirt for one with a very special message: Red Card Against Cancer.
A nonprofit organization that proclaims “A Cure is Our Goal,” Red Card Cancer (RCC) endeavors to use the world’s most powerful game and its passionate fans to “kick cancer out of the game (of life).” And that is just what Coach Olivia Pena and her team were doing not only on the field of play but during the prior two days on the hilltop.
The girls set up a table in the Dining Hall for students and faculty to either purchase food or make donations, with all proceeds going toward cancer research. Many in our community also signed pledge cards to stand against cancer, which were displayed at the field as a strong show of solidarity. The game was designated a “blackout,” so attendees wore black to further heighten awareness of this deadly disease.
The experience was tremendously meaningful to Co-Captain Avery Trach ’23 and her teammates. “Being a part of the Red Card Against Cancer game was very impactful for me because I felt like I was representing a cause much bigger than myself,” she shared. ‘It was important to us as a team because we worked so hard setting it up, and the energy from the crowd in return made the event a night to remember.”
That energy helped lift the Saints to a satisfying victory over the School of the Holy Child. “Everyone was there cheering us on, and we got the win, so that was good,” said Co-Captain Joy Okonye ’23. “But it was more important to do something like Red Card Against Cancer. It shows that we care—not just about ourselves, but about others. It feels good to be part of a team and a community that contributes to making change in people’s lives.”
The event benefited Red Card Cancer, which was established in 2009 on the campus of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania when Founder Paul Payne set out to create a memorial event for his friend and coaching mentor, Joe Bochicchio, who lost his battle with melanoma. RCC has since grown into an organization with national reach and a growing impact on all levels of soccer in the United States. It is closely affiliated with Johns Hopkins’ Sidney Kimmel Cancer Research Center and, in 2018, entered into a partnership with the American Cancer Society.
We are so proud of our Girls’ Varsity Soccer Team, Coach Pena, and the entire hilltop community for uniting in the fight against cancer.