WATCH: 15th Annual Kicks for Cancer in Concord-Carlisle
A look at the 15th annual Kicks for Cancer event held at Concord-Carlisle High School on September 25, 2021.
Tommy Cassell, MetroWest Daily News
CONCORD – Maroon stayed in the closet. Blue and gold stayed at home.
Same for orange.
How do you recognize players when 400 are wearing teal and the other 400 are wearing pink?
Ask them to turn around.
Everyone has a connection to tell a story that day.
School colors? They were out.
Rosa was in.
Pink traffic poles. Pink tutus. Pink jumpsuit. And a pink poodle named Herbie.
The main attraction, however, is soccer. When teams walk through the main entrance, ovations are showered on them.
The sardine-filled student sections on the hill behind the benches are never bigger – or louder; the unmistakable bassline vocals of “Seven Nation Army” never sound better.
“While we always try to play for our teammates alongside us, what we really want is to honor that special someone and just play for a bigger cause,” said Lincoln Sudbury girls’ soccer captain Nicola Donlan.
This cause? Kicks for cancer.
It’s not a tournament; no trophy will be awarded at the end.
Nearly 20 schools – from nearby Acton and Lincoln-Sudbury to south of Mass Pike Milton and Holliston – participated on Saturday, including four for field hockey (Sticks for Cancer). In the run-up, cross-country teams ran kilometers for cancer, played golf links for cancer and soccer hosted an event to fight cancer.
“Everyone is affected by cancer in one way or another,” said Mika Tums, the football captain of the LS boys. “I think it’s just a great way for anyone to honor the person they want to honor.”
“It’s a great opportunity to bring everyone together for a common cause,” said LS soccer captain Miguel Rosa.
Jackson Dressens was “bumps”.
Ben Chen was “Lao Lao”.
Jonny Goldin was “mom”.
The name on each of their jerseys represents a family member who was diagnosed with cancer and defeated.
For Dresens, “Bumps” is his grandfather. His older brother, Zack, also put “bumps” on the back of his shirt when he played for the Wayland High Boys football team.
“So it’s kind of a tradition and it means a lot,” said Dresens, a senior captain at Wayland.
Chen’s grandmother “Lao Lao” beat breast cancer but has since died. “She was a big part of my life when I was younger,” said the senior captain of Wayland. “So it felt right to represent her in my senior year.”
Goldin’s mother was diagnosed with cancer when he was in middle school. Despite beating cancer, it was scary for the current Wayland captain at the time.
“It’s nice to have this game where I can honor her that way,” said Goldin.
On Thursday, the Wayland boys’ soccer team presented assistant coach George Argyrou with a t-shirt. Argyrou recently lost his father to cancer, so the Warriors decided to put his father’s initials – “AA” – on their shirts for the Kicks for Cancer event.
“He was really moved,” said Waylands head coach Dave Gavron. “It was an emotional 48 hours for him. … He has us and this family here, they are always with him. “
Chen said, “Coach A is such a big part of our program. He feels like my father, my second father. It’s great to do something special for him and help him get through such a difficult time in his life with the loss of a father. “
“He really is such an important part of our program and team,” added Goldin. “That’s why it feels so special to honor him in a way he deserves, and I’m sure his father deserves it too.”
One field further than Wayland played on Saturday night, both Lincoln Sudbury football teams honored longtime coach Yoshitaka Ando, who died of esophageal cancer in December 2019.
In back-to-back games against Concord-Carlisle, countless LS soccer players put “Ando” on their backs, while many of the LS boys sketched “Ando” with black felt-tip pen on a white armband.
More: Lincoln-Sudbury Boys Lacrosse plays in honor of longtime coach Yoshitaka Ando
“He’s an icon at our school,” said Rosa.
“It’s like having a legacy on my back,” said Fiona Prendergast, senior captain of the LS girls. “I want to wear this and I want to make sure nobody forgets it.”
Inspirations for kicks for cancer
Long-time assistant coach of Concord Carlisle football, Steve Wells, was inspired by the event: Lois Wells. She died 14 years ago, but her spirit gave life bringing cancer to the public.
“A lot of people hear the word cancer with a very negative connotation,” said Steve Wells. “We’re really trying to make something positive out of it and not get bogged down in the negativity that is associated with the word.”
I’m at Concord Carlisle for the 15th annual Kicks for Cancer High School soccer tournament. It’s one of the best events of the year. Here are a few pictures of LS & Wayland players honoring loved ones and families affected by cancer. pic.twitter.com/cvNlGSWMYp
– Tommy Cassell (@ tommycassell44) September 26, 2021
Now, 15 events later, Kicks for Cancer is a high school athletics forum to come together for a good cause every fall – and great action.
“The kids are always highly motivated,” Wells said. “When you talk to alumni, they always mention Kicks for Cancer as one of the most memorable experiences on the program – and that includes teams that have won the state championship.”
“It’s a really cool experience,” said Matthew Hyer, coach of LS-Boys, who won a state title with the Warriors in 2016.
On Saturday the LS boys’ soccer team defeated their rival CC with a nightcap. After jumping to a 3-0 lead in the second half, the Warriors held onto a tight 3-2 decision. When the referee whistled the final whistle, the squad of LS fans stormed across the field and swarmed the winning team into their own network.
“That was the most fun I had playing football,” said LS senior captain Sean Desmarais.
Junior Dave Doirain scored two goals for the Warriors and was perhaps the highlight of the event on the field – an arched free kick that stuck out over the CC goalkeeper’s outstretched arms into the back of the net.
“All the goals I scored were for people fighting cancer,” said Doirain.
The name “Debbie” was written on the back of his shirt.
She was the mother of one of Doirain’s childhood friends, Trevor Whitmore, who is a junior on the Marlborough High football team. Debbie Whitmore died of colon cancer on November 13, 2014.
When Trevor Whitmore saw the video of Doirain’s goal on social media, he was ecstatic. The Marlborough High Junior felt blessed that Doirain was honoring his mother.
“This man is doing everything he can to represent my own mother and to show that he cares for me and my family,” said Whitmore. “I really like that about him. That means a lot. “
Tommy Cassell is the lead multimedia journalist for the Daily News. He can be reached at email@example.com. Tim Dumas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.