Andover Athletics Dedicates January to Cancer Research, Prepares for Relay for Life

Pictured above is Andover Girls Varsity Basketball and below (left to right) are Coach Molina, Coach Jones, and Coach Monroe.

This month, Andover’s athletics department has dedicated four home games to raise funds and awareness for cancer research through an effort called Andover Fights Cancer.

Andover’s basketball and hockey teams have shown their support for Andover Fights Cancer by organizing raffles, coordinating bake sales, and wearing the color purple. Girls Basketball Co-Captain Hope Nardone ’23 reflected on her team’s engagement in the effort. 

“Last weekend, we wore white and purple [during] warm ups for our home game against Milton… We have all taken the opportunity to appreciate how sports can help spread awareness for other important causes. And we can acknowledge sometimes sports are much larger than the game. We felt super grateful to be able to support Andover Fights Cancer and help spread awareness,” said Nardone.

Andover’s chapter of Relay for Life, a student-led initiative, has taken advantage of the awareness month to further promote its mission to fund cancer research, according to President Alvin Liu ’24. On April 22, the club will hold Andover’s fifth “Relay for Life”, a three-hour fundraiser and walk-a-thon in the Snyder Center. 

“This weekend at the hockey games that are specifically for Andover Fights Cancer, we’ll be setting up tables. We’ll be accepting donations for our event, as we’re also an event that fights cancer, so we share the same values as Andover Fights Cancer. So we’ll be at this game, accepting donations, helping people register if they feel inclined to, and also just working towards building popularity. Getting the word out,” said Liu. 

Serving as the faculty advisor for Relay for Life since its kickstart in 2014, Lisa Joel, Director of Athletics, believes cancer awareness efforts can extend to the Andover community outside of athletics. For example, Parents of Students of Phillips Academy (PSPA) has sold purple Andover hats in support of Andover Fights Cancer, proceeds from which go to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

“This is a true community event, whether you’re a student, you’re a faculty member, a staff member, a parent. So my hope is that the community can come together around the fight against cancer, which I think every single one of us probably has some affiliation somewhere in our lives, and if not yet, unfortunately, probably at some point. So it seems to me really worthwhile,” said Joel. 

Liu shared plans for the fundraising event in the spring. At its peak, Relay for Life raised nearly 70,000 dollars for the ACS. 

“You can go there and walk laps and recognize that cancer is a constant fight. So someone constantly walking a lap is there to signify that… We’re hoping to get a speaker in. And afterwards, it’ll just be a really great moment to be part of the community because there’ll be luminaria bags lit up all around the tracks. Lights will go off, and it’s just a really powerful moment and raises a lot of awareness for cancer itself,” said Liu. 

Joel explained the role of sports teams in awareness efforts like Andover Fights Cancer and Relay for Life. The competitive nature of sports often carries over to an eagerness to meet difficult fundraising goals, according to Joel. 

“We can achieve more as groups than we can as individuals. So to the extent that teams of people, athletic teams can rally around a cause. It seems like a pretty natural relationship,” said Joel.

Liu shared a similar sentiment to Joel, highlighting the impact sports teams can have on raising cancer awareness. Liu hopes to maintain a strong relationship with the athletic department, in hopes to continue the fundraising efforts from Andover Fights Cancer.

“Usually [Relay for Life is] done in teams. So for a sports team to just sign up as an entire team for Relay for Life is just like a huge message to the rest of the school that these guys are doing it. Because these sports teams are just so well known throughout campus,” said Liu. 

Girls Hockey and Boys Hockey will dedicate their games to Andover Fights Cancer on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2:15 p.m., respectively.