‘Movember’ is a success for Canisius hockey team

Mustaches support good cause, look great

Hockey players have a reputation as being a good-looking group of guys. Never is this truer than the month of November – or as they call it, Movember – when players grow mustaches all month long in support of prostate cancer awareness.

Some of the mustache-wielding players, including Coach Dave Smith, pose for a picture after practice this week.

The Canisius College hockey team joined forces with players and teams across the globe through Movember.com, which is quite literally committed to changing the face of men’s health awareness.

Even coach Dave Smith joined the party this year, but he wanted his players to do it for the right reasons, not just because the NHL guys do it, too.

“He pushed not just growing the mustache, but being more knowledgeable about what it really stands for,” said junior forward and mustache virtuoso Torrey Lindsay, whose uncle had prostate cancer. “He was kind of pushing that everyone know, if somebody asked you what Movember was, you’d be able to explain it to them. So if you saw someone with a moustache in November, it’s gaining awareness for prostate cancer.”

The NFL does a great job supporting breast cancer awareness by wearing pink throughout October, but men’s health awareness month in November often goes under the radar. Movember is doing its best to change that.

“By putting a fun twist on a serious issue, Movember aims to change the way a large number of men think about and treat their health,” its website reads. “The moustache is Movember’s catalyst for change and will be used to bring about change and give men the opportunity and confidence to talk about their health with friends and family.

“[Supporters] effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November. Through their actions and words, they raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.”

Senior captain Scott Moser will admit that the team hadn’t gone all-out for the movement in years past, but this year all the guys got in on it and he enjoyed it. He forgot about his mustache the first day he had it, and then looked in the mirror and said “Oh my gosh, I have to go to school like this.” But the more players who joined in, the easier it became.

Junior forward Preston Shupe, also a captain, made it known early in the month that players were to register with the website and start growing mustaches. When Lindsay’s started coming in (he took a head start), players took notice, and once Coach Smith made the commitment, everyone knew they should too.

“We were surprised because [coach] didn’t say anything about it, and then he just came in for a pregame talk like a week into November and he shaved off his chin hair and his pregame speech was all about Movember and being committed to things,” Moser said.

“He was like, ‘you know what, I’m going to be committed to Movember this year. We’re going to be committed to playing team games, so if you guys want to commit to Movember, I’m all in.’ ”

“I’m motivated,” Smith said. “I thought Movember was a great cause, but I wasn’t committed. So I said, ‘I’m going to commit to doing what you guys are doing and I’m going with Movember,’ and it feels great. …A lot of people asked about it because it is out of character for me [to wear a mustache], but it feels good to tell people why were doing it as a group and be a small part of something bigger.”

About a week later, senior goaltender Dan Morrison gave a lecture in the locker room. He had given a speech about Movember for his Oral Communication class, and Smith suggested he do the same for the team so everyone was clear on what the mustaches were about.

So Morrison gathered his note cards in the middle of the dressing room and addressed his teammates. He rattled off some info about when you should start getting checked – age 50 for most men; 40 if there’s a history of it in your family – before giving the damming statistic that 1 in 6 American men will develop prostate cancer. Then he looked around the room. That’s four of five of his teammates and coaches who will eventually have it.

The U.S. has the highest rate of prostate cancer of any country Movember partners with (followed by Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland) and it is estimated that prostate cancer will kill 33,000 Americans 2011, according to numbers Movember publishes from its research partners in each country.

From seniors to freshmen, the Griffs are doing their best to support the cause and spread awareness.

“I was a newbie to Movember, so I thought it was a hockey thing, just doing it for fun or to stand out, but then I realized it’s for prostate cancer so it’s for a good cause that means something,” said freshman Logan Roe, who enjoys his facial hair freedom after attending a prep school that mandated a clean shave.

“There’s a lot of different styles [of mustaches], too,” Moser said. “There’s just the straight mustache, you have the handle bar, I kept the flavor savor… you get food kind of stuck in it, so it’s the flavor savor down there. Then there’s the pirate look, when you keep a little bit on the chin.”

Lindsay’s mustache is certainly impressive, but the players are quick to give the best ‘stache award to a pair of sophomores, forward Taylor Law and goalie Tony Capobianco, both of whom turn 22 this winter. They are earning the Griffs respect on the ice as well as off it.

Goalie Tony Capobianco, voted one of the best mustaches on the team.

Lake Superior State’s coach made them shave for the team picture,” Moser said. “Usually when you’re walking through the handshake line, you don’t say anything, but a couple of them were like ‘man, you’ve got a great bunch of dusters on your team.’ I was like, ‘thank you very much!’ ”

The players weren’t even aware that they had raised $115 for men’s heath by way of their page on Movember.com. The top earning member on the team page was play-by-play announcer Nate Lull at $25, and most of the donations earned by the players came from Lull’s girlfriend, who gave $5 to each player registered on the site.

“Basically, Preston Shupe came to me this year and said ‘you did a great job helping us last year, would you want to participate this year?’ I tried to help the guys out by saying it as much as I could on the air, so maybe family and friends would go to the website,” Lull said. “They really got into the spirit of it this year. Torrey Linday, Taylor Law, Braeden Rigney…it was pretty incredible.”

The money will go toward Movember’s global funds, which have grown exponentially since startup in 2003. Movember now has over 1 million “Mo Bros” and “Mo Sistas” registered across the globe and has raised over $170 million for the cause – and neither of those are including numbers from 2011.

Movember took the NHL by storm this year, backed by the likes of Twitter mogul Paul “Biz Nasty” Bissonnette and the legendary mustache memento that is Jonas Hiller’s goalie mask, which is covered with pictures of his teammates, all with crazy facial hair drawn on. Locally, several Sabres like Thomas Vanek and T.J. Brennan got attention for their mustaches.

As November comes to a close and the Griffs look forward to shaving, something they’d like to do better next year is start it up sooner, to get more publicity for it and raise more money. Moser said he’d even like to see other teams on campus – men’s teams, that is – put down their razors and support the cause.

And then the senior had a great idea: Next year, the team should do a mustache night as a promotion.

“We should hand out fake mustaches to everyone at the game. I’d even come back for that one.”

It could turn into one of the most successful promotions the team has ever had. They’ll need to start planning it soon – it’s just 11 months until Movember starts up again.

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