Like five other York-Adams League girls' basketball teams, Eastern York is busy preparing for the opening round of the PIAA state tournament.
At 18-7 overall, Eastern has gotten to this point in the season by going through its share of highs and lows on the court. But off the floor, they've experienced so much more.
Pay it forward: A breast cancer survivor herself, Eastern coach Cheryl Land has seen first hand the impact that even the smallest show of support can have for those facing the "hurdle" of cancer, as Land describes it. That's part of the reason why Land, in her first year coaching at Eastern, challenged her team to "pay it forward" this season.
"I was a poor kid growing up and many people helped me," Land said Monday night. "It was because many of those people in my lifetime took a chance on me and helped me that I have a deep commitment on helping others."
The first challenge for her team came on Oct. 13, when Eastern participated in the first-ever Weaver Fever 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament at York College to raise money for Amanda Weaver. A former player for Land when Land was an assistant at York Catholic, Weaver was diagnosed with stage three colorectal cancer in May. The 3 on 3 event raised more than $32,000 for the Weaver family in assisting in Amanda's medical bills.
"It just shows the supportive group we have around us not only at York Catholic but the basketball community as a whole," said Amanda Weaver's father, Mike, who is in his 11th year as an assistant on the York Catholic staff.
Amanda Weaver, a 2007 York Catholic grad and the program's No. 2 all-time leading scorer behind Kady Schrann, went on to play basketball at the University of Hartford, where she graduated in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in physical therapy. She had just finished her first year of classes toward a graduate degree in physical therapy when she was diagnosed with cancer.
"She's doing real well," Mike Weaver said. "She has two chemotherapy treatments left. One this Wednesday and the second March 20. After that she has a six-to-eight week recovery period to let the chemo out of her body and then she'll have a second surgery."
Giving back: Maybe Land was meant for the job at Eastern, where she can be an example of overcoming the odds at a place that has had its fair share of hurdles with cancer.
Eastern senior Bree Taylor, now cancer free, came out on the winning end in the fight against leukemia in 2011. Two other Eastern students, Brandon Hohenadel and Riley Portera-Camp, are currently in a battle against leukemia.
That's the main reason the Eastern girls' squad chose to participate in a breakfast Nov. 17 to support the Four Diamonds Fund, which assists children battling pediatric cancer at the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.
The Knights gave another show of support at their Rotary Club Holiday Tournament on Dec. 27 and 28, when they collected toiletries and cleaning items to donate to the York Women's and Children's Shelter. Eastern players also made pancakes and French toast to deliver to the shelter. Land says none of the events would've been possible without the help from students and parents involved.
"When I came (to Eastern) it wasn't about a team, it's really about a program," Land said. "I don't want to use that as a cliché but it's about building a program both on and off the floor."
-- Reach John Walk at email@example.com.