The University of Maine women’s basketball team continues to struggle.
Coming off Tuesday night’s loss at New Hampshire, the Black Bears have a 2-19 overall record that is among the worst in program history.
Coach Richard Barron and his staff are trying to rebuild the program almost from scratch, having brought in nine first-year players this season to join a group of only four healthy returning players.
The growing pains have been in evidence, as UMaine has had only one senior and one junior upon whom to rely for significant experience and leadership.
One area where the UMaine women’s team has been an unquestioned success is in its community involvement.
Black Bear players regularly visit local elementary schools to interact with young students. And Barron is active doing his “Time Out” luncheons and other speaking engagements.
Again this year, Barron is spearheading UMaine’s involvement in the Play4Kay initiative.
Play4Kay is a nationwide fundraising program that uses women’s college basketball as the platform to promote breast cancer awareness and research across the country in support of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
Yow, the former longtime head coach at North Carolina State, died of cancer in 2009. She is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Barron, who knew Yow, was a driving force behind UMaine’s Play4Kay fundraising last season. In an effort to bring home the importance of the cause, he offered to shave his head if the UMaine community could raise $10,000.
That’s what happened and Barron sat in the jump circle at Alfond Arena to allow fans to watch him have his head shaved. He hoped it would be a reminder about what many cancer patients experience when undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
With his hair again on the line, Barron has challenged UMaine fans to show their support for the cause by rallying to donate $10,000 for Play2Kay. However, time is running out.
UMaine’s Play4Kay game is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9 — a 1 p.m. contest against Albany at Alfond Arena. As an added incentive, the person who makes the largest single donation by Feb. 6 at noon will be able to sit on the bench as an honorary coach.
However, NCAA rules prohibit prospective student-athletes and relatives of student-athletes from participating in the contest.
Those who wish to donate to this year’s Play4Kay initiative can do so by visiting www.Play4Kay.org/MaineBlackBears or by clicking the link at GoBlackBears.com(.)
Barron should be praised for his proactive approach in reaching out to UMaine fans and the community.
Even with his youthful team languishing while trying to establish some consistency, he involves himself and his team in a variety of activities that transcend basketball.
It will take more time, but the wins will come. In the meantime, Barron and the Black Bears will continue to try to make a difference in Greater Bangor.