Men’s soccer hosts round-robin tournament to raise cancer awareness

Drawing upon its experiences with the Think Pink campaign, the Binghamton men’s soccer team hosted a round-robin tournament to promote the locally initiated Red Card Cancer (RCC) program on Saturday.

Founded in 2009 by Bloomsburg men’s soccer head coach Paul Payne in memory of his longtime friend and colleague, Joe Bochicchio, the RCC is designed to raise awareness of cancer within the soccer community as well as to donate funds specifically to the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.

When Payne asked Binghamton head coach Paul Marco if he would like to get involved in the efforts, Marco was immediately on board.

“I was thrilled because I’ve had some family members pass away from cancer, a close friend, and I thought, ‘What a terrific idea,’” Marco said. “In fact, I wish that I had come up with the idea — it’s terrific. We have something that affects everyone’s lives in a tragic way, and [Payne has] turned a cause to unite the soccer community and others.”

Joining Binghamton at the Bearcats Sports Complex and adjacent field, Bloomsburg, Cortland and the Greater Binghamton Futbol Club (GBFC) of the National Premier Soccer League all participated in the four-hour tournament on Saturday night.

Some of Binghamton’s players, including freshman midfielder Mike Kubik, freshman goalkeeper Robert Moewes, junior midfielder Pascal Trappe, senior midfielder Tommy Moon and freshman forward Lee Manchio, took to the stands during the games, offering fans bracelets with “Red Card Cancer” inscribed on them and red cards to increase awareness of the program.

“What was pretty neat for those guys was they got to introduce themselves to the crowd and make it a more personal interaction than just announcing it over the loudspeaker,” Marco said. “I thought it added a great personal touch.”

Marco asked former Binghamton assistant coach, and current head coach of the GBFC, Al Mydlinski, to participate in the tournament as well.

“Paul [Marco] tied me into it and thought that it would be a great idea — and I concur 100 percent — that we, as a soccer organization, began to emphasize the need to raise money particularly for cancer research, which is what Kimmel does at Johns Hopkins,” Mydlinski said.

Mydlinski has close ties to the program and its philosophy — having been diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer last year, he spent 10 weeks at the Kimmel Center and is a strong advocate of the institution’s capacity for innovation research.

“When you go to a place like Kimmel, and they say to you, ‘This is where you are, these are some of the probabilities that might occur in the near future, this is what needs to be done and we have this also,’ the ‘and this also’ adds the touch of hope that might not have existed but for being ingrained in the actual process. So that ‘and we have this also’ is what they can offer that no one else can,” Mydlinski said.

The tournament wasn’t Binghamton’s first involvement with the RCC. Marco said that he had participated in promotional events and other tournaments before and that he plans to expand upon what has already been done.

“I see this becoming a much larger event than we initially kicked it off with, and I see this growing,” Marco said.

With soccer more on the back burner during the spring, one plan is to integrate the program into some of the more heavily attended fall games, which the team has done with the Think Pink campaign.

“We’ll need to have one of the Red Card Cancer awareness events this coming fall as well,” Marco said. “The Think Pink campaigns that we did were terrific. We actually even wore pink during the game.”

The commonality of athletes donning pink uniforms to promote research for breast cancer reflects on all the strides that the campaign has made and what Mydlinski hopes RCC will do for other types of cancer.

“The awareness part is critical, with the understanding that we can’t just be concerned about what is … but should be concerned about what could be,” Mydlinski said. “And with awareness comes the responsibility of seeking new answers.”