EASTLAND, Texas - Millions of Americans are affected by cancer every year, whether it's a personal experience, friend or loved one. The Eastland high school basketball teams are more concerned with fighting for life over fighting for district wins this year, taking measures to fight the disease.
"There are bigger things than basketball," said Eastland boys coach Ryan Marwitz.
"This will be our second year to put on coaches vs. cancer, and supporting a fight against something that affects so many people."
Both teams are joining the Coaches vs. Cancer initiative, a collaboration between the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the American cancer Society. The program offers coaches an opportunity to raise awareness and fight cancer.
"It's important to us because not only has it affected the basketball program but people in the community as well," said Eastland girls junior guard Mattie Moylan.
It's turned into a community affair, uniting Eastland to help one another deal with loss. Cancer strikes a very personal chord for many in the Mavericks' hoops program.
"First thing that comes to my mind was my father cause I think he was the only true close family member that I had that died from cancer," said Eastland girls head coach Steve Schmidt.
It doesn't stop there.
"I've been affected personally, losing my dad this year. It's been hard, but everybody's supporting and will continue to fight against it," Marwitz said.
"My mom had breast cancer 5 years ago or so," said Eastland's McKenzie Gulley.
In the first Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser at Eastland, the community collected $4,307.40 for the American Cancer Society. It was the biggest donation from any school in the state of Texas. They collected donations during halftime of the varsity games, including money from concessions.
This year's collection came during the rivalry games against Cisco. Donations dwarfed the previous year's, reaching an astonishing $6,756.11 dollars.
Whether it's opening their wallets to give or opening their hearts to support, the community can feel the overwhelming support.
"It's pretty special coming from a small community, but that just goes to show all the support," Marwitz said.