SIOUX CITY | Luke Strand doesn’t have to look outside his own locker room to see people that have been impacted by cancer.
Every year it seems at least one of his Sioux City Musketeers has a family member that is battling breast cancer and this year is no different. That is why Pink In The Rink means so much to the coach who is in his second stint leading the team.
“We have shared a lot as a group as a family per say with our team and there has been (several players affected over the years),” Strand said. “We have a young man whose grandmother was stricken with (breast cancer) and survived it and is prospering after it. But at the same time that moment of life was really a daring time.”
Breast cancer has impacted wives, mothers, grandmothers and siblings of Musketeers players and coaches over the years. Pink In the Rink is one way for the organization to bring attention to the fight against breast cancer and show its support.
Strand said he will take time leading up to Saturday night's Pink in the Rink and Military Night later in the season to make sure his players know how these events impact others. In fact, Strand believes it is groups like the Musketeers that need to be in the lead when it comes to things like this.
“We should be a driver for it,” he said. “As service organizations all across the city we need to be able to give back too. It is rewarding to us, it is rewarding for the community, but at the same time it really brings everyone together.”
Strand, who has experience all the way up to the NHL level, said the bonds that are created throughout the sport at all levels make it ideal to support causes like breast cancer awareness.
“As you go up levels and guys are older they are impacted in deeper fashions,” he said. “It hits households and homes regularly so to support it in every way we can is only beneficial and at the end of the day at some point in our lives, we are going to be affected by it. Let’s try to conquer this.”
Strand has coached during a couple of Pink In The Rink games and he said there is definitely a different feel at the rink on those nights.
“The game is going to stay the same but the meaning of the game that night definitely changes,” he said. “There is an ability for a young man to stand up for something that will be part of their lives the rest of their life. That togetherness is an important part of what we have here.”
The players also wear special jerseys on Pink In The Rink night that are auctioned off after the game to raise more funds.
“It is a next level feeling,” Strand said. “It is a very pro feeling when you are donning another jersey for a specific cause. The idea that there is a purpose behind what they are doing, I think it adds up.”
It is important to Strand that players from across the nation that come to play for the Musketeers feel the support in and out of the locker room when they are dealing with family members that are fighting cancer.
Strand has had friends and friends’ wives that have fought breast cancer and it is something that has impacted him as well.
“It is terrible and I have seen both sides of it,” he said. “Some of them are young and that is scary and some of them are older. That doesn’t matter because the fight is here and the cure is to be found.”