The e-newsletter of Chestnut Hill College

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The e-newsletter of Chestnut Hill College

Sports Connections

Sports Connections

CHC women's basketball players support cancer research.

CHC Experiences a Pink Out

With uniforms, whistles, shoelaces, T-shirts and more all dyed pink, the Chestnut Hill College women’s basketball team played their two final home games in support of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, a charitable organization committed to fighting women’s cancers through advancement in scientific research.

The Fund, in partnership with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and the well-known Jimmy V Foundation, was created by Kay Yow, head women’s basketball coach at North Carolina State University, who succumbed to breast cancer in 2009. Yow’s belief that coaches should be united in community and toward a greater cause and her desire for coaches to enrich their lives by serving others manifested into the vision of the fund which has raised more than $3.9 million in support of cancer research.

One of the initiatives of the Yow Fund is the “Play4Kay” event that takes place annually at colleges across the country.

“This was our second year involved in the Play4Kay fundraiser and our first at home,” says Laura Pruitt, head women’s basketball coach. “We wanted to try to raise some funds to support breast cancer research while having fun with our girls and fans with the idea of a pink out.”

While the team managed to raise only $100 due to harsh weather that made it tough for fans to get to Sorgenti Arena for the weekend of the games, Pruitt was not discouraged.

“The Play4Kay Foundation was really supportive of our efforts and encouraged [us] that every bit helps,” she says, adding that the hope is to make the event “bigger and better for next year.”

And even though the team did not raise as much as they would have hoped, the event brought the ladies and the College community together, united under a great cause, just as Yow envisioned when she started her foundation.

“I feel Coach Yow’s belief system echoes the sentiment we have as coaches in our program as we try to build a winning culture,” Pruitt says. “We want to win games, but it is important that our team embraces being good, honest and loyal ladies first and foremost, to be a positive life force for each other and to do our best to enrich our College community, on and off the floor.”

According to Pruitt, events like Play4Kay are just the way to do that, while also serving to remind the student-athletes to be grateful for what they have and most importantly, “to embrace the moments and live life to the fullest.”

— Marilee Gallagher ’14 

The rivalry between Philly U (wearing purple) and CHC makes for some exciting games. CHC player Christian Walck makes a move during the past season.

CHC-Philly U Rivalry Makes for Great Basketball
The connection between CHC’s Coach Jesse Balcer and local basketball legend, Herb Magee, creates great games between the Griffins and the Rams.

As a coach, in order to win 1,000 games at any level, you have to be at the pinnacle of your craft.

Philadelphia University’s Head Men’s Basketball Coach of 46 years, Herb Magee, is at that very pinnacle, and no one knows it better than Chestnut Hill College‘s own head coach, Jesse Balcer, who has had the rare privilege to play for, coach for and now coach against the local legend.

“When you were playing for him, you always felt like you were going to win. When you were coaching for him, you always felt like you were going to win. And when you’re coaching against him,” Balcer says, “even if you’re prepared, you can still lose.”

Such has been the case for the CHC men’s basketball team, which has gotten the better of Magee’s squad only twice in the 18 times the teams have met. But wins aside, the games the Griffins have played against Philly U always have been competitive, and as Balcer calls them, “instant classics.”

“They consider us a tough opponent and we’re only seven miles apart,” Balcer said, referencing the rivalry between the two teams. “Even though the balance of wins isn’t there like a traditional rivalry, we have good crowds, good games and good competition every time.”

Philly U has had one of Division II’s best programs under Magee, including winning a national championship in 1970 and a handful of runs to the NCAA’s elite eight, including one in 1992, during Balcer’s first year on the team.

Across the Central Athletic Collegiate Conference (CACC), the Rams are the “gold standard” according to Balcer and a program against which he measures his teams.

“When we are coaching and recruiting, we are looking to bring in players who are tough enough to compete with those guys,” Balcer says. “It’s pretty cool when I can tell them that I played and coached for Coach Magee. I think parents like that pedigree.”

But more important than being able to say he played for D II’s 1,000-win man, Balcer has his experiences, the lessons he learned and every word he ever heard Magee say. All of this, Balcer says, he has carried with him to the program he built and fosters at CHC.

“I was with him for seven years between player and coach, so I’ve definitely taken a lot, like his ideas, his way of seeing the floor and how to attack people,” Balcer says. “As a player I took in everything he said and wrote stuff down, knowing that if I had a program one day, I’d want to bring his knowledge and what he shared with me.”

And while Balcer cites his familiarity with the plays Magee likes to run as part of the reason the CHC-Philly U games have been so close, he also acknowledges that stopping the Rams has been “easier said than done.”

Still, Balcer has faith that his teams are getting close to being able to get those elusive wins against their cross-city rival.

“They keep finding a way to beat us at the buzzer,” Balcer says, recalling CHC’s most recent losses to Philly U. “He’s had a lot of great teams but we do too. I love the level of player we bring in, the teams we have. We’ll keep working toward it. We’ll find a way to win.”

— Marilee Gallagher ’14 

Bowling coach Mike Blakeney
Mike Blakeney

Bowling Coach is Chosen

Lynn Tubman, director of athletics and recreation, and Mike Blakeney, recently appointed as CHC’s first head women’s bowling coach, recently discussed the College’s newest intercollegiate athletic program with

Coach Blakeney has a strong foundation in the sport, most recently spending four years as head coach at Cheyney University, where he oversaw a remarkable turnaround. In his four seasons, Blakeney helped the team increase its scoring average from 530 to 760 and led the Wolves to victories over several teams ranked inside the nation’s top 20.

Women’s bowling was officially announced by Tubman as Chestnut Hill College’s 20th intercollegiate program in November. In 1994, as part of the NCAA's Gender-Equity Task Force, bowling was identified as an emerging sport for women. Since then, it has showed immense growth in popularity among female athletes.


Read more about CHC Sports here.