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Softball teams rally to raise cancer awareness

Posted by rc360 on April 7, 2010

Photo by Vincent Fernadez || fernanv5.imail.losrios.edu

City College softball players show unity during the game against American River College, Tuesday, March 23, 2010, at the SCC Softball Complex in Sacramento, Calif. (saccityexpress.com/Vincent Fernadez)

(Note:  Discovered this story while scheduling an interview with one of the softball players the day of the game and pitched the story idea.  Story by Vincent Fernandez.)

City College beat cross-town rival American River College – though no one seemed to care — when they faced off in a benefit softball game March 23 that brought awareness about cancer and its many faces.

Players from both sides donned special pink jerseys in the Courage against Cancer benefit game to commemorate the event and spotlight the need for more education and insight about this vital issue. Both teams have dealt with cancer on a first-hand basis. This disease has affected members from both teams.

“Get involved!” City College softball coach Robert Maglione shouted at his playoff-bound team before the game, while maneuvering a small golf cart that dragged a mat over the infield diamond. Team members pounced toward pre-game chores for preparation of City College’s game against American River. Maglione,a highly successful coach in his 24 years in community college athletics, is a man of few words, according to players.

Maglione is also a cancer survivor.

According to veteran utility player Victoria Sendejas, Maglione hasn’t spoken much about his illness to them. Maglione seems to lead by example and inspiration, with the team feeding off his positive energy, Sendejas says.

“It makes us stronger as a whole,” says Sendejas, a nursing major, of Maglione’s inner toughness.

Bobby Cameron, the team’s assistant coach, agreed with Sendejas.

“He portrays that to his team, [and] they love him and show all the support they can. I don’t know if I could be as strong as him,” Cameron says.   “We’re a really tight team.   We support each other no matter what happens, no matter what illness.”

The American River College team has also dealt with cancer, losing assistant athletic director and softball coach Katy Renee McKenzie in December 2008 to ovarian cancer. There have also been other coaches, as well, who have been diagnosed with the disease.

“It [cancer] has been pervasive in our district,” says American River College assistant athletic director and women’s basketball coach J.R. Matsunami.

Matsunami is pleased to see the young players working together to raise awareness.

“We’ve been touched in our district,” Matsunami says. “This is something that transcends sports.”

The Panthers (22-2) beat the no hitting beavers 16-0. But for both teams the final score was irrelevant. The spirit of hope and courage and how it affected those involved with Courage against Cancer was the real issue.

There were no winners or losers.

Click here to read the story on the Express website.

Click here to read the story on the Express print newspaper.

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