The Cranston boys and girls hockey teams recently held a “Pink Out” during their games last Saturday against La Salle and Coventry.
The pink out was held to raise cancer awareness, and donations went toward charity for Cranston girls player Ani Ayanyan, who battled brain cancer in the past and is currently enjoying a clean bill of health.
“Myself and (Cranston boys coach) Matt Brannon had bantered back and forth about it and we finally decided, ‘let’s do it.’ We raised $135 for Ani’s charity. It made sense for us to do something,” said girls coach PJ Bessette.
Bessette was excited to see a big crowd at the event, which included various members of the Cranston community.
“The student body from Cranston West had a great turnout, the parents and families from Cranston. It was a great turnout and it was a lot of fun to see the girls get dressed for the opening ceremony. It’s for their teammate, it was a fun atmosphere,” said Bessette, who has also been proud of Ayanyan and the rest of the girls squad. “She’s a good kid, she goes out there and plugs along. That’s how our team is, they love playing hockey. They work hard and she’s one of them. I figured that it was the perfect opportunity to give back a little bit. The outcome wasn’t what we wanted but we knew what we were up against in La Salle,” said Bessette.
The La Salle girls team, which won the game 7-0, also joined in the fun and wore pink jerseys of their own. Bessette was happy to see the Rams join the cause, and to see the strength of the local hockey family.
“We got the pink shirts, it was easy because I grew up with (La Salle coach) Sean McNamara so we could converse. We texted back and forth and La Salle made their own jerseys too. It wound up being a really good thing,” said Bessette. “It’s an awesome thing. A lot of the girls know each other, the parents know each other. I grew up in the hockey community and I still play hockey with a lot of the guys that I grew up with. That’s how the hockey community is … it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, you’re part of that community. It’s an everlasting thing and these kids will never forget it, they’ll always be a part of it. You never forget who you play with.”
The Thunderbirds and Falcons hope to make the pink out an annual event, and to see it taken even a step further.
“We want to make it a yearly thing,” said Bessette. “(Moving forward) we hope to pick a specific date and to have everyone (in the state) involved. We’re taking baby steps, along with the boys. They didn’t care that they were wearing pink, they knew what the cause was.”
The boys team would win its game against the Oakers, cruising to a 5-0 shutout win which improved its record to 8-4 on the season. The Thunderbirds fell to 4-7 in the loss to the Rams.