WNY Athletics

We Play For Marv

They play for Marv. No questions asked.

When the the Holland field hockey team heard the news their hearts all sank.

They didn’t want to believe it. They didn’t know what tomorrow would bring for Coach Marv, but they did know one thing for sure. They were going to be in their coaches corner – just like she always has been for them.

“When the girls heard the news their hearts just dropped. You could see it in their faces,” said current Holland field hockey head coach Alycia Pici.

“You could tell they were receiving the news just as she received the news. It was back again and she couldn’t be with us. Their hearts just dropped. I think this year they really wanted to make the huge community impact . What they’re trying to do is get the whole community to rally its support behind a person who has always supported them. So this year they’re really trying to make that huge impact; trying to help her in any way that they can.”

On Oct. 15, at 5pm, Holland will be hosting Williamsville North in its annual Play for a Cure cancer awareness game. All proceeds raised will be donated to former head coach Pat “Marv” Marvin, who received a second breast cancer diagnosis in August.

“I myself was very shocked,” junior captain Jenna Dietz said of her reaction to the news. “You could see when we were told the news – all the girls faces just dropped. We were all in a, I don’t know how to put it, we didn’t know what to say.”

Marvin, who spent 31 years coaching Holland field hockey, was originally diagnosed about three years ago and appeared to have beaten the cancer that invaded her body. News of its return was not only devastating for Marvin, who has been serving as a volunteer assistant in recent years, but also for the girls on the team who have come to love and think of her as a family member.

“Something that she has done and still does that impacts me is the amount of dedication she has to our program, even though she is no longer the (head) coach,” said freshman Abby Neitch.

“She’s always here when she can be and she always supports our team and cheers us on. It’s just really helpful, and it impacts me and makes me want to play for her. It makes me want to do better for her because of how much dedication she shows to the program.”

This season the girls are also wearing specially designed warm-up tank tops with the name “Marv and a pink ribbon” on the front.

Leading up to the game players will be selling baked goods at other Holland athletic events, like soccer games. The Play for a Cure game will have a $1 admission, basket raffles and donation buckets floating throughout the stands. All in an effort to do what they can for “Marv.” A person who has touched countless lives in and around the Holland community.

“She was a P.E. teacher in Holland for many years,” Pici said. “So obviously just impacting children on a daily basis with her positivity. Not only did she coach field hockey for many years, she’s still currently the boys track and field head coach. So she’s making a daily impact with all of the boys who run for her…. She’s always the No.1 supporter that she can be for her athletes.”

The role model for what it means to be a coach. Teacher. Mentor. Marvin has always been the kind of person friends could count on.

“The impact that she’s had on our school. Not only for our field hockey team, but for our education programs has been a lot,” Dietz added. “I wanna be a coach some day and I feel like she has put, not an expectation, but almost like a goal to strive for it.”

But it isn’t just Holland rallying around Marvin. The entire WNY field hockey community has shown that they have her back as other schools like Hamburg, Pioneer and Will-North have already said they will be donating the proceeds from their Play for a Cure events to Marvin.

If you were in trouble, Marv would be in your corner. So it’s only natural that so many people are rushing to her side in this time of need.

“People really have high regard for Marv,” said Pici. “She’s just a genuine, nice, positive woman who reached out to so many different communities. The Pioneer community has been donating their Play for a Cure money in her name for years now and we’ve done games with them. She just reached so many different communities, not just Holland, with who she is as a person that it speaks volumes of how much people care about her and support her. I think now that this is the second time I think everyone just wants to show her how much they support her and care about her this time.”

All too often when we hear of a loved one being diagnosed with cancer one of the toughest factors to come to grips with is that overwhelming feeling of being powerless to do anything to help. This game, along with continuous emotional support,  gives the girls of the field hockey team a sense of power and control that they can actively do something to help Marvin in her battle against cancer.

“It’s definitely feels good to start helping,” said Neitch. “Personally, I’ve had people in my family who have had extreme diagnoses. I think this game is gonna be great because it’s getting the community involved.”

Pici said that the weight of this battle has understandably taken its toll on Marvin emotionally, so it is even more imperative that as many people as possible step up and send Marvin their well wishes.

“Last time, she was a little more quiet about it. She kept it to herself,” Pici said. “People that were close to her knew about it. But this time she came right out and said this is what I’m going through and I need some support and some positive thoughts. Think the best for me. So everyone knows about it and every one just really cares about her and wants to be there for her if she needs it.”

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