KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Thursday evening, as rain poured down outside of Lindsey-Nelson Stadium, cheers rang out from the Tennessee baseball locker room.
Brooks Bergeron, son of Tennessee Associate Head Coach Greg Bergeron, was the target of all the shouting, as the Vols tried to persuade him into having his head shaved.
The boy coyly resisted, remaining perched on one of the player’s shoulders instead.
Altogether, clippers buzzed for almost an hour and about 35 pairs of ears were lowered (excluding young Brooks) as the team participated in the head-shaving event to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
The Vols have currently raised over $2,500, half of which will go to the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital while the other half will go to the Vs. Cancer Foundation. (DONATE!)
Chase Jones, a cancer survivor and former college baseball player himself, started the Vs. Cancer Foundation in December of 2012 with an idea for how baseball players could show their support for the fight against cancer.
“We started with this idea, just as a way for baseball players to give back,” Jones said. “And as it came along we saw that the best way, especially in-season, would be to just shave our heads. So I ran with it.”
“This is an event that our players and our coaching staff decided to do to help a great cause,” UT Head Coach Dave Serrano said. “So many of us have been affected by cancer in our families and with our loved ones, I think it’s the least we could do. If we help just one person then we feel it’s a great accomplishment.
The event comes at a poignant time for the baseball team, as one of its own is dealing with the recent loss of a family member from the disease.
Andy Cox, a freshman pitcher from Arlington, Tenn., lost an aunt Wednesday as her lung cancer spread to her brain and kidneys. Cox said the loss was especially hard because her doctor’s felt she had more time.
“I was talking to my dad last week and we thought she had another 18 months (to live).” This week, I guess it just hit her hard,” Cox said. “And just like that, she was gone.
“Last night, when I found out they all supported me,” Cox added. “And today, I just couldn’t ask for a better group of guys around me. Best and most supportive team I’ve ever been around.”
As one of two seniors on the team, pitcher Zack Godley understands the importance of supporting his teammates in tough times.
“He’s been really moved by the fact that all the guys are doing this, and he’s really excited that everyone is supporting him,” Godley said.
“We’ve already gelled as a team, and now we all look alike,” Godley added, with a grin.
For more information about the Vs. Cancer Foundation, follow @Vs_Cancer on Twitter. Donations will continue to be accepted throughout the remainder of the season at Tennessee.vs-cancer.org.