Last Updated: Apr 27th, 2015 - 11:04:56

Pink Sneakers Bring Awareness
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Jan 29, 2014, 08:57

Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
HOPEWELL Most basketball teams across the country decide on a team shoe prior to the season and Hopewell's boys basketball team is no exception. However, their choice of pink-colored sneakers have brought with it puzzling looks, instant questions and sometimes even tears.

No, the Blue Devils are not looking to make a fashion statement when taking to the hardwood nor are they trying to stand out with an unfamiliar colored sneaker. Instead, behind the pink-colored shoes is a story of a team bringing awareness to a disease affecting one in eight women over the course of a lifetime while also supporting their own teammates.

Every time Hopewell laces up their sneakers, they are raising awareness of breast cancer and also honoring the memory of junior forward Darrell Taylor's mother, Peggy.

The idea came weeks before the season began as Hopewell head coach Robbie St. John asked his team what sneaker they would want as a team. It was during this time Isaiah Fernandez told his coach about what she had meant to the team through the years, dating back to even middle school days when she would be in the stands.

It was all St. John needed to hear to understand what wearing the sneakers would mean to the team, but he had to clear the idea by Taylor to make sure he would not be uncomfortable with the situation.

"You never know if someone is going to take it too far or try to get under his skin about it," St. John said of the pink sneaker's significance. "He got a big smile on his face and thought it was a great idea and I thought it was special because the idea came from a player. It touches everyone."

But it didn't touch anyone more than Darrell and Tabyus Taylor.

Both had no idea the basketball team had even brought up the idea of dedicating the season to her. They had only known about the football season in which everyone wore pink on their uniforms through the month of October which made it all the more emotional for the cousins.

"It was real good that everyone bought into the pink and it's not just for his mom, but the coach's mom and everyone else who has had breast cancer affect them," Tabyus said.

Added Darrell, "I didn't know they were going to do that for basketball. My mom wasn't going to be at the games anymore and my sister was going to be there by herself, but I really liked what they did for us. I really appreciate it."
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot

Yet, they are not the only ones who have appreciated the gestures of Hopewell's players.

It has become common-place for spectators to question whether the pink sneakers are being worn for fashion or have a deeper significance after nearly every game played. When those who ask find out the true meaning to it, they tell a story of how breast cancer affected either themselves or others before sending their thanks to a team deciding to bring awareness.

"My mom's a breast cancer survivor and the first time she saw us play, she sat there with tears in her eyes," St. John said. "It means something to people who have been affected by it and it's a small thing we can do to help."

And it also shows the type of young men St. John has on his roster to come up with an idea which brings with it so much meaning.

In an age where many people focus on themselves before others and even adults couldn't care about certain issues unless it directly affects them, the Hopewell basketball team has shown a maturity which belies their years. It shows tremendous character for all of them to agree to the gesture and understand the significance of the act.

"That's Isaiah Fernandez. It reveals his character and shows you what kind of kid he is," St. John said. "I think he saw an opportunity to if anything else to give our team a sense of comfort. Our team is used to having her there and it was a situation where let's find a way to honor her."

The Blue Devils will continue to do so for the rest of the season, bringing tears to those who know the full story while also handling the responsibility which comes with it, showing the maturity of young men who will continue to have success in life.

Copyright © 2004 - present