Coaches vs. Cancer two-night event

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Sometimes you’ve got to roll with the punches, and Knoxville’s 2019 Coaches vs. Cancer event will roll on despite three cancellations.

Originally scheduled to be held Jan. 19, weather conditions canceled the games that night, as well as the night in which it was first rescheduled. The boys’ and girls’ basketball teams were scheduled to take on Chariton for the event one last time on Feb. 7, but once again Mother Nature sucker-punched the community and forced another cancellation.

With no more make-up dates available, the coaches are now forced to improvise, adapt and overcome to get the 2019 fundraiser in. The girls will wear their pink uniforms tomorrow night (Feb. 8) against Van Meter, with the silent auction taking place Saturday night (Feb. 9) when the boys play Grinnell.

A significant portion of this year’s plans included recognizing Chariton’s contributions to Knoxville’s successful Coaches vs. Cancer events in the past. This included honoring a cancer survivor from Chariton. As it stands, neither planned honoree will be able to attend and no ceremony will be held at either game.

Oftentimes, doubleheader nights that include boys’ and girls’ varsity games often draw bigger crowds – especially Coaches vs. Cancer night. Over the past decade, today’s varsity teams have seen how full the gym gets and have felt the energy of those crowds. Facing the possibility that they will be unable to experience that this year is a letdown.

“The team is pretty bummed,” Head Coach of the girls’ varsity team and event organizer Jim Uitermarkt said. “It is a pretty special time for the kids.”

Fewer attendees means that it is likely the total raised by this year’s event will be lower than that to which Knoxville has become accustomed, but it will still be significant. What disappoints Uitermarkt the most is being unable to honor the cancer survivors, as defeating the disease is what all of the effort is truly about.

“It’s too bad, but what can we do? We tried. We tried hard,” Uitermarkt said.

There will be no more alumni games this year. However, if you signed up to be on a team, Uitermarkt asks you to come pay for your t-shirt to help recoup the funds used to buy them. As of this writing, he was still trying to work out when the Knoxville Cancer Relay team will be able to make its presentation.

Though the Coaches vs. Cancer event will be unlike the usual event, Uitermarkt and all other supporters hope as many people as possible still come out to support the teams Friday and Saturday night.

Friday’s events begin at 5 p.m. with junior varsity girls. Ice cream and cookies will be sold at the girls’ games. Knoxville is hosting district wrestling all day Saturday. Uitermarkt hopes to set up the silent auction by 5:30 p.m., with games beginning at 6:30 p.m. Saturday’s events will include ice cream, cookies, quilt raffle, shooting contests, Chuck a Duck, 46-second challenge, and the senior girls’ hair cutting.