Rebecca Lobo's Basketball Clinic Against Cancer
Supporting cancer patients and empowering young girls
The passage of Title IX in 1972 prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender at federally funded schools. This meant that schools had to provide equal athletic facilities to boys and girls—giving women’s sports a huge boost.
Retired WNBA player Rebecca Lobo was born in 1973. “I am a Title IX baby,” she says. Though Title IX wasn’t always implemented perfectly in schools, her mother RuthAnn Lobo always made sure it was at Rebecca’s. When a 5th grade teacher told Rebecca she should “act more like a girl,” RuthAnn made sure Rebecca knew it was the teacher who was wrong. And when Rebecca signed up to play on the town’s previously-all-boys basketball team, her mother insisted that she be treated exactly the same as the boys. Her mother always encouraged her dream of being a professional basketball player, despite the fact that there was no WNBA, and therefore no women professional basketball players until 1996.
It goes without saying that her persistence paid off. When the time came to choose a college (and a team), Lobo chose UConn after being recruited by over 100 schools. She led the Huskies to the championship in 1995, and at this point, she had become not just a star player, but a media sensation. She is largely credited with helping bring women’s basketball to a mainstream audience, and she continued her career in the WNBA and as a player on the 1996 gold medal-winning Women’s Olympic “Dream Team.”
But in the midst of all her early success, Lobo and her family were going through a trying time. During Rebecca’s time playing for the Huskies, RuthAnn Lobo was diagnosed with breast cancer—yet she continued to attend her daughter’s basketball games while she received treatments. In 1996, Rebecca and RuthAnn co-wrote a book called The Home Team, a memoir about Rebecca’s basketball career and RuthAnn’s battle with cancer.
Lobo now reports on women’s basketball for ESPN and coaches her childrens’ youth basketball teams. She also continues the advocacy work of her mother, who died in 2011. “My mother was a true champion for women and families fighting breast cancer. Her legacy lives on.”
In August, Lobo will hold a basketball Clinic Against Cancer for girls in the 6th-9th grade—both helping young girls with their basketball skills and supporting a cause with great personal importance.
Lobo, who says she was “that kid who went home and practiced in the driveway,” hopes to give girls the tools they need to become better basketball players. “I think sports can give girls tremendous confidence. There are many negative forces pulling at young girls, and their self confidence will help give them the strength to do what is right.”
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the clinic will go to the Connecticut Sports Foundation Against Cancer. “I’ve worked with the CSF the past few years and really believe in what they do. They came to me with the idea for this clinic and I thought it was a great way to raise awareness of the foundations and funds for the work they do.”
The Connecticut Sports Foundation is a nonprofit that focuses on giving money directly to CT cancer patients to ease the financial burden on their families.
“There is so much stress on a family when one of their members is diagnosed with cancer.” Lobo says that her family was fortunate in that her mother was able to continue working during her treatment, so they did not have to worry about being able to pay the bills. But for some families, piling-up medical bills can make an already stressful situation impossible.
“When someone is diagnosed with cancer, the family just wants to focus on getting better,” she says. “I’m excited about the CSF can help alleviate some of those stresses, and I’m excited to visit Fairfield County and teach basketball.”
After the clinic, Rebecca will hold a Q&A. For more information and to register for the event or donate, visit lobobasketballclinic.org