Head coach Muffet McGraw (center) and the Irish conducted a basketball clinic in January in Stevensville, Mich., as part of their efforts in support of the WBCA Pink Zone this year. The Irish raised more than $45,000 for the initiative and were named the winners of the inaugural WBCA Pink Zone Challenge, it was announced last Friday.

Notre Dame Wins Inaugural WBCA Pink Zone Challenge

April 6, 2009

ST. LOUIS – The University of Notre Dame has been selected as the winner of the inaugural Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Pink Zone Challenge, it was announced Friday evening during a live broadcast of the WBCA’s “Shootaround With Beth & Debbie” show at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel in St. Louis. Irish head coach Muffet McGraw accepted the Pink Zone Challenge trophy on behalf of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program during Friday’s announcement, which was made as part of the annual WBCA Convention, which is being held in conjunction with the 2009 NCAA Women’s Final Four.

“We are extremely grateful and proud to accept the first-ever Pink Zone Challenge trophy,” McGraw said. “A tremendous amount of credit has to go to our director of basketball operations, Stephanie Menio, who did such an amazing job in organizing our Pink Zone efforts this year. This is a great example of the teamwork between the South Bend community, including our fans who are the best in the country, our generous Pink Zone sponsors, the WBCA and our players, who all came together to do something wonderful in an effort to help raise awareness and find a cure for breast cancer.

“I also want to thank the other schools that took part in this year’s Pink Zone Challenge,” McGraw added. “This wouldn’t be possible without their support and cooperation. We hope all of these schools will join us again next year, as we look to make this an annual event on the women’s basketball calendar.”

The WBCA Pink Zone Challenge is a friendly fund-raising competition, with participants charged with trying to collect the most money through the Pink Zone initiative, a global, unified effort for the WBCA’s nation of coaches to assist in raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond. The WBCA’s official charity is the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.

The 15 schools taking part in this year’s Pink Zone Challenge were invited based upon their appearance in the top 20 of the final 2007-08 NCAA attendance rankings. This year’s Pink Zone Challenge featured: Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, LSU, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri State, New Mexico, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt. Together, these 15 schools have raised over $160,000 for the Pink Zone initiative, with the entire Pink Zone project collecting more than $1.3 million this year.

Through a variety of activities, as well as the specifically-designated “WBCA Pink Zone Game” on Feb. 8 (a 62-59 win over No. 25 DePaul), Notre Dame collected more than $45,000 as part of the Pink Zone initiative during the 2008-09 season. Those funds will be donated nationally to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund and locally to the Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center Women’s Task Force, which includes the Secret Sisters Society and Young Survivors group.

Among the activities the Fighting Irish developed to help raise funds for the Pink Zone Challenge were:

  • Collections at each home game during the 2008-09 season
  • A basketball clinic in Stevensville, Michigan
  • A silent auction at Notre Dame’s designated Pink Zone game vs. DePaul on February 8
  • Sales of special pink t-shirts and other merchandise at the Hammes Bookstore and other locations on campus
  • Sales of “in memory/honor of” cards through Notre Dame’s Varsity Shop
  • Irish 3-Point Challenge (specific donations for every three-pointer the Irish made (total of 120) this year)
  • Head coach Muffet McGraw’s donation for every rebound the Irish grabbed during the Feb. 8 Pink Zone game ($430)
  • At the Feb. 8 game, each Irish women’s basketball player and student manager donated $15 to the cause ($225)
  • Donations from Notre Dame alumnae

A Pink Zone steering committee was created at Notre Dame this year to market and help raise funds for this special initiative. The steering committee was comprised of members of the Notre Dame faculty and staff as well as local community leaders.

Several South Bend-area sponsors also were involved in helping to support this year’s Pink Zone at Notre Dame, including Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, South Bend Tribune, Legends of Notre Dame and Ja’Ross Salon and Day Spa.

— ND —