While Keuka College’s colors are green and gold, its softball team warms up in pink.
The idea for the pink shirts came after Head Coach Jaime Burke’s mother, Lucy, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“The team got the idea and had the shirts made on their own,” said Burke. “When I met with the team prior to the season in February, they asked me if they could do something for my mom. She had just found out in January that she had breast cancer. I said ‘sure, it was fine with me.’”
“The shirts have ‘Keuka Softball’ on the front, ‘I Love Lucy’ on the back, our numbers on one sleeve, and the breast cancer symbol on the other sleeve,” said senior Jessica VanScoter, who coordinated the project.
“’I Love Lucy’ stands for our coach’s mother,” explained VanScoter, an occupational science major from Canisteo. “She is a big part of our team. Lucy hasn’t missed a game in the four years that I have played for Coach Burke. She is our scorekeeper, and our mother on the road. She always has everything we need, from ChapStick and sun screen, to Q-tips. If we need anything, chances are Lucy has it. We just wanted to do something to honor her, and show her how much she means to us.”
Burke didn’t know what her team had planned until a couple of weeks before its first game. And when she saw the shirts, “we knew my mom would be emotional, so the kids showed them to her at the hotel before we went to the field.
“All 17 girls lined up outside my mom’s hotel room with their backs to her so when she opened the door, she could see the heart with ‘I love Lucy’ in it,” said Burke. “She hugged each girl and must have cried for 30 minutes.”
According to Burke, each of the five softball teams that she has coached at Keuka have been very close.
“With my dad being the assistant coach and my mom keeping score, it has been a family setting from day one,” she said. “My mom and dad have always treated each player like a member of our family, and each girl looks to my parents as a second set of parents away from home.”
Said Burke: “I am very proud to have had the opportunity to coach such selfless and thoughtful women at Keuka. It is the little things off the field, like putting someone else ahead of yourself, that has helped this program become so successful on the field.”
Keuka has made three consecutive NCAA Division III Tournament appearances while posting a 92-29 record since the start of the 2007 season. The Storm, 20-6 so far in 2010, will host the NEAC Tournament this weekend with a fourth straight NCAA bid on the line.
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