Princeton’s men’s basketball team had five players average double figures last season en route to an Ivy League championship and NCAA tournament bid.
It’s that teamwork Mitch Henderson sees as important in the fight against the nation’s second-leading cause of death, and why Henderson, just a week from the start of his season, was at Scranton Prep High School on Sunday morning to help kick off the 10th annual Coaches vs. Cancer campaign.
“It’s exactly the same thing,” Henderson said. “If you’re a chef or a factory worker, whatever you are, teams are the same. The sum of the parts is greater than an individual person. Standing up today and sharing a few words together means a lot, but it doesn’t do the whole part of it.
“If you think of ourselves as a group, we can accomplish anything. I’m here not only to just unite, but to bring that one common thought together and say, what you do today, even if it’s just to raise your own awareness, it matters.”
Henderson spoke to the gathering of more than 200 students, players, coaches, administration, and cancer survivors and caregivers as the collaborative initiative of the Lackawanna League and Wyoming Valley Conference basketball coaches got underway.
“While I was starting to think about getting involved, my mom got cancer,” Henderson said. “It made it an easy way to jump in.
When the diagnosis comes in you start asking questions. What do we do? How do we do it? It can be a very helpless process.”
His mother succumbed to an aggressive form of cancer after two years, but it was the start of a different learning period for the former Princeton point guard.
“As you get to know a little bit more about cancer research, what the American Cancer Society needs is money to support research grants and funds so that things that were, 50 years ago, immediate death sentences, are now curable cancers,” said Henderson, now in his seventh year as head coach. “It just felt like the right thing to be doing.”
His own Coaches vs. Cancer event will take place today at Princeton, but the size and scope of what Prep coach Andrew Kettel chairs was astonishing, especially the $1.2 million raised thus far in District 2.
“This is incredible. This doesn’t happen at other places,” Henderson said. “Just being here and seeing this, this is the true community rallying around an idea. Usually some event like this, there’s one person in the middle. That’s how great things happen. I’m not surprised it’s Andrew.”
At the breakfast, Kettel announced that Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim will be the guest speaker at this year’s BasketBall, the black tie and sneakers event slated May 12 at Mohegan Sun Casino.
Boeheim also was a speaker at the 2014 kickoff breakfast.
Tickets for the event can be obtained by calling Ryan Schofield, the local ACS community development manager, at 570-562-9749, or on the website, cvcbasketball.org, which will go live Saturday.
* Suits and Sneakers week will be Jan. 22-27, with the Hoopla scheduled for Jan. 28 at PNC Field. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders are sponsors for the event.
* Fans can jump into the action this year by joining the 3-point challenge, pledging money for every 3-pointer made by their school in the month of January. Contact Schofield for more information.
* Tenth anniversary apparel is available online at spiritsale.online/cvc. T-shirts will be sold through individual schools. Last year, more than 5,000 T-shirts were purchased to help support the campaign.
* The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport has joined the effort this season, and is looking for businesses to sponsor holiday decorations on its windows. Cost is $300 per window and is limited to 40 displays. For information, contact Tom Bonin at email@example.com, or call 570-602-2011.