MU grey out head shave
Men’s basketball coach Nate Conley has his head shaved after the event raised more than $500 in the first half of the women’s game.
Photo provided by MU Athletics

Manchester Basketball Hosts ‘Grey Out’ Event to Fight Brain Cancer

Tristen Bronaugh

Manchester basketball team hosted a “Grey Out” event to raise money and bring awareness to the fight against brain cancer.

On Feb. 4, Manchester’s men's and women's basketball teams welcomed Mount Saint Joseph for Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play. This was a big day for the Spartans: not only was it a conference matchup but it was also the first “Grey Out” event to raise money for the American Brain Tumor Association during the games.

Grey is the official color for brain tumor and brain cancer awareness. Attendees who wore grey to the event were entered in a raffle to win a prize. Free merchandise from the American Brain Tumor Association was also given out to those who attended.

If the event raised more than $500 in the first half of the women's game, the men's basketball coach Nate Conley would get his head shaved on the court. If $500 was raised by halftime in the men's game, the women's coach Josh Dzurick would get a pie to the face.

What made Manchester decide to make this game the Grey Out Event? “We chose the game against Mount Saint Joseph’s because in 2015, Lauren Hill, a freshman on the MSJ women’s basketball team, lost her own battle with an inoperable brain tumor,” said Dr. Heather Schilling, Director of Teacher Education and Professor of Education at Manchester University, who orchestrated the Grey Out event. Schilling has also been affected by this disease.

“My daughter, Elizabeth, was a junior in college, when she was diagnosed with a stage 2 brain tumor in her left temporal lobe,” Schilling said. “Instead of spending a semester abroad, she spent the spring at home recovering from a 10-hour awake craniotomy. Her tumor required six weeks of proton radiation and then 10 months of chemotherapy.”

Elizabeth's life started to go back to its normal way and she started to live her life like a normal adult. However in December 2019 that changed.

“She was diagnosed with a rare cancer of the spinal fluid and a stage 4 glioblastoma—an inoperable brain tumor,” Schilling said. On December 21, 2021, the day before her 29th birthday, Elizabeth passed away.

Both men's and women's teams took part in the event in their own unique ways. The women's team wore their new grey uniforms, which would be auctioned off at the end of the game. The men wore their grey “Adjust Your Sails” warm-ups. (Elizabeth had adopted “Adjust Your Sails” as her slogan, as borrowed from cancer activist Elizabeth Edwards.)

“Seeing the women in their grey uniforms and the men in their grey Adjust Your Sails warm-up shirts took my breath away,” said Schilling.  “It’s moments like these that remind me of the amazing community Manchester University is.”

The women played first, but before the game, Schilling spoke to the audience and told her daughter's story as well as why they decided on the Mount Saint Joseph matchup for the Grey Out event.

As soon as the first game got underway, the crowd was electric. “The energy was super exciting,” said junior Dylan Nicely. “A lot of people came out for a good cause, which says a lot about the culture of Manchester.”

The Spartans started strong against the Lions, outsourcing them 20 to 10 in the first quarter.  The Lions came alive in the second quarter, shooting 67% from the 3-point line. The Lions outscored the Spartans 19-7 in the second quarter making it 29-27 at the half.

As halftime approached, Manchester had raised well over the $500 goal. Coach Conley and sophomore guard Ty Lynas took the court. Conley sat in the middle of the court while the whole gym watched in excitement as Lynas shaved the coach’s head.

During the second half, it wasn't until the 4th quarter that the Lions began to pull away, outscoring the Spartans 24 to 13. The final score was 69-54 Mount Saint Joseph. The Spartans were led by freshman Jessie Ringen who had 15 points and 11 rebounds, her first collegiate double-double.

The men's game followed. The Spartans started impressively, outscoring Mount Saint Joseph 35-29. Manchester had crushed the $500 goal, and at halftime Dzurick walked to half-court. The crowd jumped up and down filled with excitement and watched as Dzurick took a pie to the face.

As the second half of the men's game got underway, the Spartans continued their efficiency. The Spartans finished the game 69-50, making their win streak improve to eight. Spartans shot both from three and the field at 46% in the second half.

The Spartans were led by sophomore Quentez Columbus, who finished with 14 points, shooting 4-5 from the 3-point line. All in all, the Spartans had four players with double-digit scoring.  And they improved to 13-8 in the regular season and 11-3 in the conference.

The first Grey Out event succeeded, with Manchester raising over $5,000. “We still have money coming in,” Schilling said. “I am humbled by the outpouring of love and support.”

Manchester University plans to make the Grey Out event a tradition for years to come.