It is not uncommon to see sport teams wearing pink during October for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, for the USF Bowling Club, wearing pink has an added meaning.
The club members wore pink shoelaces at the recent UCF Central Florida Classic Bowling Tournament in honor of their former president, Eric Ortiz, who lost his battle with cancer in September. The members have also added pink patches and stitching on their bags, not only to increase awareness for cancer, but because it was Ortiz’s favorite color.
Former member and current advisor of the Bowling Club, Alec Matthews, was a close friend of Ortiz and said that the added pink had a positive effect on the club and means a lot to him, personally.
“We were very good friends outside of the team; I knew him for about seven to eight years,” Matthews said. “It gave everybody a sense of purpose and a reason to play. For me, it was a big gesture for them to wear pink; granted most teams are wearing pink now, but in the next few months no one else will be so it means a lot.
Ortiz was heavily involved in the club’s activities and was always willing to lend a hand- whether it was giving bowling advice or simply helping a friend out.
“Eric was a very caring individual,” Matthews said. “A lot of people talk about giving their shirt off their back for someone, but Eric literally did that. He would go out of his way to make sure you had what you needed even if he had to go without.”
While Ortiz’s first priority was always making those around him happy, the USF Bowling Club has always held a special place with him.
“He was a coach for us,” Matthews said. “Once he was accepted into USF, he was on the team, but his health prevented him from playing. He was still a part of the team and would always help out members.”
Heather Williams, the current club president, is doing all she can to increase awareness of the Bowling Club and make it known across the university in hopes of not only gaining new members, but spreading the same message and atmosphere Ortiz wanted.
“We’ve gotten bigger, but I want to make it where bowling is the same as football and tennis at USF,” she said.
Williams says the club is always accepting new members and invites anyone to come out and give it a throw.
“It doesn’t matter if you think you stink or you bowl every week, it’s open to everybody,” she said. “We have coaches who help us, we learn and get better.”
The team will continue to wear pink in honor of Ortiz at its upcoming tournaments in November and December.
The Bowling Club practices on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30 – 8:30 PM at University Lanes (13109 North 56th St., Tampa, FL 33617). Interested students can register to be a part of the Bowling Club at https://orgsync.com/87481/chapter.