Sports

Youth soccer fights breast cancer

Cobras and Wildcats put their pink socks forward. - Travis Sherer
Cobras and Wildcats put their pink socks forward.
— image credit: Travis Sherer

MARYSVILLE — It’s usually pretty difficult to get teenage boys to wear pink.

For that reason, U17 Cobras’ coach Michelle Rolfe was caught off guard when her Marysville Youth Soccer players approached her with the notion of wearing pink socks during games.

“I was surprised, but I thought it was a great idea,” she said.

What started out as a few of the players wanting to raise money to fight breast cancer has turned into the Kick Out Cancer program. The sentiment has grown considerably and now includes fans, a website and local sponsors — not to mention a feeling that only comes from helping others. Now two teams — the Cobras and the U10 Wildcats — are raising money.

“The original idea was to support the fight against breast cancer, and then we thought that pink socks are everywhere, let’s just wear them,” said Jake Mielke 17.

They soon found out, however, that pink socks weren’t actually as common as once believed.

“We couldn’t find them anywhere,” said Rolfe. “But Ablemark Screen Printing helps us get our uniforms, and I don’t know how they did it, but they found us socks in two days.”

But even then, there weren’t enough socks for both feet, so the Cobras and the Wildcats each have one pink and one black sock.

“I like that there is only one sock,” said Autumn Bell, 10, of the Wildcats. “It makes it stand out.”

Bell’s grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she isn’t the only player who has been affected by the disease. In fact, many of the players — including Rolfe, who lost her mother to breast cancer two years ago — have had a family member or friend diagnosed with some form of cancer.

That is a common bond that didn’t really come out until the Cobras met to decide on wearing the socks.

“It’s nice because you got to know another part of your friends’ story,” said Travis Ahman, 16, of the Cobras.

Once wearing the pink socks, the team’s parents agreed to change a long-standing tradition of passing around a piggy bank after every goal scored to donate for a season-ending team party, to passing around a decorated coffee can with the sum heading to the Susan G. Koman Foundation.

And both the Cobras (5-0-1 record) and the Wildcats (5-0-1) are scoring enough to win games and raise money, but both teams want to do more too. They are looking for more sponsorship and donations, which are coming in.

“We had more people show up at our last game than any of our other games,” said Rolfe, who has been coaching both teams with her husband Dean, since the Cobras were in first grade.

The original goal was to earn roughly $500, but they are likely to raise it, after receiving a $250 donation from Absolute Drywall, and taking in around $75 per game.

“I’m excited to see where this goes,” Rolfe said. “Because the thing that really gets me is that they were the ones that came up with the idea, and now it’s snowballed into so much more.”

Of course, not all the developments have been great. Some of the players spray painted their hair pink a week ago for a game played in a downpour.

“None of (our opponents) really say anything other than it’s a good idea,” said Josh Feinauer, 16. “And ‘Why did you spray paint your hair?’”

Those players saw pink as the paint ran down into their eyes.

“We probably won’t be doing that again,” said Feinauer.

But there are likely to be new developments, as both teams want to continue fundraising in 2011.

“I’ve got people coming up and asking me if I want pink uniforms,” said Rolfe. “I’m like sure, they’ll wear them.”

The Marysville Cobras U17B consist of Brendon Kalnins, Alex Troupe, Michael Imboden, Dirk Lyle, Austin Fitzhugh, Mario Valencia, Stephen Calkins, Josh Feinauer, Jake Mielke, Travis Ahmann, Gabe Svob, Stephen LaRue, Ray Cook, Zach Roy, Matt Fouard, Keegan Stewart, Casey Mills, Brynden Cassady and Mitch Elvron.

The Marysville Wildcats U10G consist of Trina Davis, Ai Erbe, Autumn Bell, Rhielynn McIntosh, Laura Brunken, Georgia Bradley, Natalie Furness, Stephanie Vannoy, Sara Rolfe and Ana Orozco.

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