Football players press to fight cancer

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A large group of football players clad in pink shirts on the Main Green is not an everyday sight on campus. But that was the case Tuesday, when the football team organized and participated in Bench Press for Cancer, a fundraiser held in front of Faunce House.

The event, held at 12 p.m., featured a large group of football players and spectators crowded around two bench presses. Organizer Mackenzie Staffier ’08 said 70 people participated, including lacrosse, baseball and football players as well as a few coaches.

“When I started organizing it I thought it would be about 30 people, so it was a really great turnout and I was really happy the coaches came,” Staffier said.

In the weeks leading up to the event, participants collected pledges from parents and friends who promised to donate money based on the number of times the players could bench press 165 pounds. The pledges ranged from less than a dollar to $5 per repetition, which Staffier and Director of Athletics Mike Goldberger pledged for football Head Coach Phil Estes. Event coordinators also sold “Bench Press for Cancer T-Shirts” and will donate all proceeds to the American Cancer Society.

“I didn’t think so many people would be here,” said running back Matt Mangiacotti ’10. “But everyone showed up and everyone got pledges. It’s a great event.”

Mangiacotti set the bar high for the reps record with an early 34, but after his turn Mangiacotti labeled defensive end Kai Brown ’08 as the favorite. Sure enough, Brown lifted the weight 41 times, but football’s other starting defensive end, James Develin ’10, outdid him, putting up 42.

Estes was among the highest finishers with 40 reps, earning him $400 from Staffier and Goldberger alone.

“It’s always nice when I can match the players,” Estes said. “I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. I was trying to get to my age, 49, but I only hit 40.”

Estes said the event was consistent with the team’s desire to give back to the community.

“Community service is something we do all the time,” Estes said. “This football team is always about doing things for the community and giving back.”

The football team was eager to participate in an event to raise money for cancer research, Estes said, given the way the program has been affected by the disease. In January of 2005, offensive lineman and tri-captain Lawrence Rubida ’05 passed away from Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

Others who finished near the top of the leaderboard included linebacker Andrew Serrano ’11 and lacrosse player Reade Seligmann ’09, who both finished with 40. Seligmann, who transferred from Duke this year, was one of eight lacrosse players who participated.

Linebacker Frank Nuzzo ’09 emceed the event, drawing numerous laughs from the crowd. When fifth-year senior Tyler Rowley ’08 pressed 25 Nuzzo observed that he “got to his age.”

“It was a lot of fun (to emcee) and it’s a real good cause,” Nuzzo said.

Staffier said she got the idea for the fundraiser from a friend who ran a similar event at Davidson College. After getting approval from the administration and coordinating with the athletic department for weeks, she felt the project was very rewarding.

“It was a lot of work but everyone did a great job getting pledges and I’m definitely happy with the way it’s worked out,” she said.

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