Members of the University of Central Arkansas athletic staff literally took a kickoff to a breast cancer awareness campaign to another level Monday.
It went right to their heads.
Milisa Moore, the administrative assistant to athletic director Dr. Brad Teague, has been diagnosed with breast cancer and has been undergoing treatments for two weeks.
Teague’s mother is a breast cancer survivor.
Teague noted that according to recent statistics, one in eight women will battle the disease.
Teague was first in line Monday as 13 members of the UCA athletic staff voluntary had their heads shaved in honor of Moore, who was invited as a special guest to the news conference then watched as a group of her colleagues and friends (coaches and staff alike), symbolically bonded with her as a surprise.
Four of the volunteers were head coaches: Jeremy Bishop (women’s soccer), Ross Duncan (men’s soccer), Jeff Borengasser (tennis) and David Kuhn (softball). Sharon Kuhn (David’s wife) was the stylist.
The body language in the Hall of Fame room indicated this was more than a token gesture. That the pink ribbons attached by a UCA Bear-logoed pin meant more than just what was on the surface.
In announcing the special ceremony in which the staff lined up for their moment in the chair with the hair stylist with clippers, Teague got emotional. His voice broke a couple of times.
“We care about Milisa a lot,” he said, pausing to compose himself. “She exemplifies what we want to be in athletics with her work ethic, integrity, commitment and unbelievable professionalism.”
UCA’s athletic teams are committed to a month-long campaign toward breast cancer research with the intention of keeping the money at home.
This includes a “Dig for a Cure” for volleyball, “Kick for a Cure” at men’s and women’s soccer and football, “K’s for a Cure,” (fall softball) “Pennies for a Cure” at local elementary schools and “Campus for a Cure” among students. UCA athletes and staff will initiate fund-raising efforts at selective events for all of those teams and events.
It was interesting Monday the reaction to the head-shaving experience.
“When I was in the Army, this took about 30 seconds,” said former UCA broadcaster Bill Johnson, who now works in development for the athletic department.
Berris, Teague’s daughter, watched in part-horror, part-amusement as her dad went from nicely cropped to bald in a couple of minutes. Cooper, one of his sons, videoed the event with a cell phone saying, “This will go all over the place today.”
There was laughter in a serious fight.
Hair can grow back. The battle against the disease will continue.
And the sense of community in a simple joint gesture can be everlasting.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)