Holly Warlick. Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
The annual Lady Vol Basketball "Live Pink, Bleed Orange" game, slated for 5 p.m. Sunday vs. Vanderbilt, is an event that holds a special meaning for fans and players with a connection to breast cancer. This season, it takes on a whole new meaning for Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick.
Warlick's sister, Marion Ferrill, was diagnosed with the disease this fall and underwent at double mastectomy in November.
"As my efforts have been to find a cure for everyone, it got really personal for me this fall," Warlick said. "It just shows you that nobody can be protected from breast cancer; we all need to do the right things to make sure we get checked and can catch it early."
Even in the midst of the fight, Ferrill has been in her usual seat at Thompson-Boling for every Tennessee home game this season, even accompanying the team on a couple of road trips.
"She hasn't missed a game, even with the stuff that went on with her," Warlick said. "You talk about courage and competing and that is an example to me of being courageous and understanding what you have to do and attacking it head on. It's incredible what she went through and I'm proud of her. We've very blessed she made it through."
Warlick said the breast cancer events all across sports help raise the spirits of those fighting the disease while also bringing awareness to the needs that exist in research and early detection.
"Having awareness allows you to raise money," she said. "Which allows us to do research and to give women who don't have the opportunity to get exams to get those and support groups. It all ties in together."
Warlick and fellow former Lady Vol assistant and current LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell plan on resuming their "Champions for a Cause" motorcycle rides this spring. Their foundation has held golf tournaments and other events in addition to the motorcycle rides. Warlick said she hopes to finalize plans for the next ride in the coming weeks.
"We're going to continue to raise money," she said of the ride. "We're going to do what we can to continue to beat it."
Pink Game Also Meaningful for Massengale
Ariel Massengale and her teammates always look forward to the annual pink-out game for a change-up in their uniform routine. But while sporting her new pink adidas basketball shoes for Wednesday's practice, Massengale said the awareness the new threads help bring to the cause makes the team even more excited to wear the color.
"It affects so many people, playing in games like this brings out awareness," she said. "Cures are happening every day, so many more women are surviving it now than in the past."
Massengale said a recent family experience brought home the need for awareness and research for breast cancer and showed her the definition of strength.
"You never wish that on anyone," Massengale said. "But I can truly say that my Godmother was my hero, because no matter what, I could always count on her, even when she was at her lowest point."
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