Regardless of the score at halftime, legendary Towson High boys soccer coach Randy Dase will not be giving his team a pep talk in their showdown against arch-rival Dulaney on Tuesday afternoon.
Instead, he will be engaged in another aspect of his life that is just as near and dear to his heart as his beloved soccer team — and that is getting the word out about prostate cancer by talking to the crowd at the game about Men’s Cancer Awareness.
Dase knows all too well about prostate cancer, since he was diagnosed with — and treated for — the disease during the 2016 soccer season.
The Towson High alum and charter member of the school’s athletics hall of fame is a firm believer in men making sure they are on top of what is usually a treatable disease if detected early.
Donations and concessions from the game will be given to the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute at John Hopkins Hospital, Dase said.
While proceeds from the fundraiser have reached $1,000 from the day of the event, an anonymous donor has annually chipped in $2,500 as well for the cause.
”The fundraising is great,” Dase said. “But the whole thing is about raising awareness.”
He said that getting a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test “is the key” for men, starting in their 50s for those with an average risk.
”One in every eight men will get prostate cancer,” Dase added. “And it’s an even higher percentage for African-Americans. But if it’s caught early enough, you should be fine.”
Dase said that he is indebted to the Brady Urological Institute for the life-saving treatment he received at Hopkins. He said that he has no ill side effects after being operated on by Dr. Alan Partin.
Besides being the de facto host for the fundraising soccer match that started in 2016 when his team surprised him with the first benefit game, Dase represented Hopkins by throwing out the first pitch at an Orioles game in mid-June.
”I threw a slider, low and outside,” Dase joked about the ball caught by Orioles catcher Robinson Chirinos.
He still has the ball and the memory of meeting Oriole Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer afterward.
On Tuesday, Dase will also turn his attention back to defending the Generals’ three-season reign as Baltimore County champions when they host the Lions.
To that end, he’s hoping that the Generals (2-1) will continue to improve after winning their second straight game against Carroll County power Century, 2-0, Saturday.
They will be led up top by junior Jake DelViscio, who has scored four of Towson’s five goals this season, and classmate Jackson Kanzler.
Senior center midfielder Jensen Specht is another key team leader, who, Dase said, “is a very well-schooled, intelligent soccer player. He always gives 190 percent and has great respect for the game.”
The fundraiser was arranged by Dase and team parent April Specht, Jensen’s mom.
”When we looked at the schedule, Coach Dase and I both said this is the game to do it,” April Specht said. “I don’t think we have played Dulaney on our turf field in three or four years.
”She said that her son and his teammates are eager to be a part of the event — and eager to play the Lions at home.
”At the end of the year, when we talk about our record, we always talk about what we did against Dulaney,” Dase said. “I love the rivalry, and I try to pass that on to the boys.”
The Generals probably don’t need much convincing to get up for the game — or to embrace the special nature of this year’s encounter against the Lions (0-2-1), who, according to Dulaney coach Dan Lahatte, “feel honored to be able to participate in this event. The Dulaney and Towson communities overlap so much, so it’s important that we lift each other up and support one another’s causes.”
Lahatte noted that, despite the fact that the early part of the season has been a challenge, there have also been bright spots for the Lions.
”We’ve created a lot of chances going forward, but need to be a little more clinical in front of goal,” he said. “Senior Joe Pichney has been dangerous in front of goal with classmate Justin Samels operating in the midfield to support, along with junior Caleb Margolis. Senior James Northey has moved to center back and has played a stabilizing role for us.”
Jensen Specht is ready to embrace the cause and the competition.
”It’s such a deep rivalry,” he said. “Coach Dase has been a part of it for such a long time and it’s a privilege to be coached by him and by taking his advice. You know you’re talking to the best when you’re talking to him.”
The senior said that it’s also prudent for men — even young men — to be aware of prostate cancer.
”It’s important to use our position as a team to help spread awareness,” he said.
Dulaney and Towson will team up again on Oct. 8 for a “Stick it to Cancer” field hockey game.
The Coreen G. McGovern Memorial Game will raise money for the Glioblastoma Foundation and honor McGovern, who lost her battle with the disease this summer.
Dulaney coach Meredith (Tracey) Lott played field hockey at Towson with McGovern’s daughter Alex (McGovern) Reilly. Lott approached Towson coach Natalie Szopo, who liked the idea for the fundraiser too. The teams have already started raising money and have begun selling T-shirts which they also will wear for warmups at the 11 a.m. game at Towson.
“Coreen was a nice person and she was always doing stuff for other people,” Lott said, “so there’s no better way to honor her and celebrate her life than through field hockey. It’s just about being kind. In a world where there are not nice people, I want my field hockey girls to be kind.”
According to the foundation’s web site, glioblastoma is an aggressive brain tumor and is one of the most lethal types of brain cancer. It often occurs in older adults.
– Katherine Dunn