One mother-and-son team used that conversation as an opportunity for action.
Jamie Turner, a 12-year-old Mokena Junior High School student, plays on Della Fave’s varsity heavyweight team. During the first game in October, he decided to advocate for breast cancer awareness, despite the youth football program’s new policy.
“It’s an illness that, unfortunately, affects a lot of lives,” said Jennifer Gingerelli, who is Turner’s mother. “Even though we’re not raising money, we’re bringing awareness to it, and I think that’s important.”
Gingerelli said that when she found out about the policy change, she was shocked and upset.
In past years, the Burros have been permitted to wear pink tape, shoelaces and socks during October. This year, their options are limited to pink gloves and a small breast cancer awareness sticker that can only be placed on the bottom left corner of their helmets. Any players who do not comply with the new rules will be barred from participation.
Gingerelli used the situation as an opportunity to teach her son about decision-making. She sat down with Turner and told him why people wear pink in October and how breast cancer awareness efforts have brought attention to the disease. Then she explained the Burros’ the new policy on pink equipment, telling Turner that it was up to him to decide whether or not to wear pink on game day, but that no matter what, she would support him.
For the first game of the month, on Oct. 6, Turner came up with a creative compromise. He wore two pairs of socks — black on top and pink underneath.
Before the game, he pulled his black socks down, proudly displaying the pink. Once the game began, he pulled his socks back up, out of respect for his coach. He also wore the team-sanctioned pink gloves.
“I wanted to go with my belief,” said Jamie. “I wanted to appreciate breast cancer awareness.”
There has been no conflict as a result of Jamie’s actions so far. His decision to wear pink socks was reported to Della Fave, but has not resulted in a confrontation.
Gingerelli said the new policy on pink served as an important lesson for Turner about the challenge of balancing respect for authority with honoring one’s beliefs.
Gingerelli also stated that she remains a loyal Burros fan and that she intends for her children to wear Burros uniforms once again next season.
“It’s not that I don’t want my son to be a Burro anymore,” said Gingerelli. “I really, truly believe that they are a great organization.”
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