Charities a focus for coaches

The Butler men’s and women’s basketball teams work hard to be involved with charitable causes off the court.

Men’s basketball coach Brad Stevens said he is most-dedicated to charities involving cancer research and serving the hungry.

“For me, the two things that I’m really passionate about are the American Cancer Society and some of the hunger initiatives here in the city,” Stevens said. “But you know, there are a number of different things that we’re more than willing to help with.”

Darnell Archey, coordinator of basketball operations, said the men’s team volunteers each fall at North United Methodist Church, serving food to the homeless. The team also donates time to Gleaners Food Bank.

“During the season, we like to give our guys a fresh perspective on certain things like going out and doing things,” Archey said. “But at the same time, we don’t want to inundate them with a whole lot.”

The women’s basketball team helped at a food bank in San Francisco while playing at the St. Mary’s Holiday Tournament last Thanksgiving.

The women’s team also held its annual Bulldogs Fight Breast Cancer game Feb. 17 for a cause that hits close to home for the team’s coach, Beth Couture.

Couture was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2009 and has been cancer-free for the past three years.

Her players volunteered at the St. Vincent Walk of Hope last October, which Couture participated in. Couture has also served as chairwoman for the event in recent years.

“It feels good when I’m one of the walkers and I see our players there supporting a cause that, you know, cancer has pretty much hit everybody in some way or another,” Couture said. “So I think for them to see the importance of research and helping people get through their treatments and things is important.”

The disease affected the men’s basketball team as it mourned the death of junior forward Erik Fromm’s father from cancer earlier this month.

“That’s one that really hits home because of the effect that cancer has had on all of us, and most recently for our team with Erik Fromm’s dad passing away,” Stevens said. “We just can’t raise enough money and awareness.”

Stevens is currently participating in the Infinity Coaches’ Charity Challenge that pits NCAA basketball coaches against each other to determine who can earn the most fan votes for their charity. The winning coach’s charity will receive $100,000.

Stevens is competing on behalf of Coaches vs. Cancer to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

“It’s really fun to be a part of those type of things, recognizing I’ve got very little chance of ever winning because of the alumni bases at Ohio State and places like that,” Stevens said. “But I really enjoy it and any dime or just any attention that goes to those kind of causes is a positive thing.”

Ohio State coach Thad Matta currently leads the Midwest Region of the contest with 49 percent of the vote. Stevens currently has one percent.

Couture said that she hopes to see breast cancer treatment advance even further in the next decade to help future generations of women.

“I just feel so fortunate that at the time I was diagnosed with this disease, that the research was to the point where I had a cure,” Couture said. “I hope that in 10 more years from now, if any of these players or my nieces or anybody develops this disease, the cure will even be better. And I think that’s through awareness, I think that’s through gift-giving, I think that’s through what you see happening all the time with pink in every sport.”

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