Penn State men’s basketball coach Patrick Chambers saw the effect of his program’s involvement with Coaches vs. Cancer firsthand.
Mitch Stover, the team’s equipment manager, benefited from the Nittany Lions’ fundraising efforts as he battled the disease.
“He needed us,” Chambers said at the Penn State Coaches vs. Cancer Golf Tournament on Friday. “So we were there for him to help him financially and we also supported him. We supported him mentally and obviously physically so to be able to see that kind of makes this — you want to come out, you want to help, you want to be a part of this.”
It was the 20th anniversary of the golf tournament started by former Penn State coach Jerry Dunn. The Nittany Lions’ chapter of Coaches vs. Cancer formed in 1995 and has raised more than $2.5 million. The American Cancer Society and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) work together to fight cancer through Coaches vs. Cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Penn State coaches and former basketball players were among those who participated Friday at the Penn State Golf Courses to raise awareness and funds.
“To me, it’s remarkable when you think back on 20 years, how many people this program has touched and how it’s grown and become one of the nicest events I think around,” former Penn State coach Bruce Parkhill said.
Penn State’s Coaches vs. Cancer chapter started under Parkhill.
He was first approached about the program by his friend and fellow coach Jim Satalin.
Satalin coached at St. Bonaventure and Duquesne during his career.
“He had become involved with Coaches vs. Cancer and kind of projected their ideas and what they wanted to try to do,” Parkhill said. “And as far as I was concerned, we were in. We were all in and it was I think a good way for us to take a swipe at cancer but also for the basketball program to give back to the community who had been so great to us in their support of our program, so it was a no-brainer.”
The golf tournament is one of a handful of Coaches vs. Cancer events throughout the year.
Chambers said it’s part of the process of building the program as former players made the trip back.
They recalled memories of their time at Penn State. And they’re aware of the “buzz” surrounding the program.
The Nittany Lions have experience returning to go with an incoming freshman class ranked 25th in the nation by ESPN. They have a tough nonconference schedule that includes matchups against Duke and Pittsburgh.
“There’s a great buzz around the program right now,” Chambers said. “It’s taken us a long time. We’re going on six years so this wasn’t a short-term fix. This wasn’t a band-aid in any way, shape or form.”
The coach said he’s looking forward to getting the team together and preparing for this season.
But Friday was about Coaches vs. Cancer.
“We all have things that we want to do or could be doing,” Chambers said. “We just got to remember how important this is every single year because it does help people and it does, majority, stays in this community to help our friends and loved ones.”