For the month of October, Drexel University’s Club Ice Hockey team brought a powerful tribute to Breast Cancer Awareness Month this year. There is more reason behind the team’s effort to show their tribute, the former coach of the team, Peter Nolan, input his own efforts in designing and donating specific jerseys to the ice hockey team to honor his late wife, Karen Sabitini. Sabitini, according to Drexel University’s Ice Hockey Twitter account, , “recently passed from a 20-year-long courageous fight with cancer,” stated on Oct. 13th. Within the statement on Twitter, this powerful message also acknowledges Sabitini’s importance to the Dragons and recognizes her notable contributions towards the team.
The tribute jerseys this year included the Drexel Dragon’s logo in front of the breast cancer awareness symbol, outlined in white to distinguish its importance. Along with yellow and navy blue stripes, varying in thickness, a pink pattern fills the remainder of the jersey. Printed on the right shoulder of every jersey is another breast cancer symbol with KS, Sabitini’s initials, on top of it. Coach Nolan’s goal to honor his wife and spread breast cancer awareness is met by creating these tribute jerseys.
In an interview, third-year student and Drexel’s division one defenseman, Michael Urbani, brought attention to former Coach Nolan’s continuous efforts to raise Breast Cancer Awareness and how he makes this tribute happen. During the annual Cold Steel Classic game against the Navy, the Pink the Rink event introduced the Dragons unique jerseys for the month of October.
“It was really special, we ended up winning that game and coach spoke to us in the locker room beforehand about what these jerseys meant… especially to him, to his wife, and the battle that she fought. A lot of respect goes out to him, Coach Nolan and his wife,” Urbani states.
Urbani also mentioned what the atmosphere of that night felt like during the Cold Steel Classic game saying, “we wanted to leave no doubt on the ice that we were going to win and I think we felt that once we got on the ice. There was a lot of people there, a lot of fans, a lot of parents. It was a big event night and it was great to see everybody out there and they were very loud… I think playing in front of people like that, people who want to support us and want us to do well, honestly I think it felt really special to be out there on the ice celebrating that night and then getting home a win.”
The Dragons won against Navy 6-3, a well-deserved win dedicated to Nolan and Sabitini.
Shane O’Brien, one of Drexel’s division one goaltenders, was interviewed along with Urbani and shared his thoughts on Coach Nolan’s commitment to bringing awareness to the team. “When he came in [to the locker room] he was obviously pretty emotional, and for good reason, but to see somebody kind of act that strong even when going through something that tough, after losing someone… it added an emotional aspect to the game that gives you a little more juice to go out there and play,” O’Brien states.
The goaltender also shared how the fan support adds to the team’s determination to win every game. “Just the support that we’ve been receiving through a lot of parents, friends, family… everybody’s been really passionate about it so far… I know we’ve been doing well as a team and a lot of that success contributes to them [the fans] and everybody who’s kind of been able to help us along the way. Our families-obviously–and just the one big family we have here at Drexel with our hockey program.”
O’Brien continued saying, “We’re really excited to see where we can go from here, the success we can have this year, we’re pretty excited for this team…we’ve got a lot of games left, a lot of big rivals coming up so, looking forward to it.”
Though October is over, the team still continues to put all of their efforts out onto the ice for Nolan and his moving tribute to Breast Cancer Awareness. Their wins during the month may have been won for Sabitini but throughout the whole season, the team continues to win for her, pink jerseys or not.