#IAmKomenAustin – Why Austin Spurs Head Coach Ken McDonald is Proud to Wear Pink

Tomorrow night (Friday, January 29th) marks another PINK night with the Austin Spurs. At Komen Austin, we are fortunate to partner with influential community organizations that understand the importance of giving back to the community, and the Austin Spurs are no exception.

We had the opportunity to get to know Austin Spurs head coach Ken McDonald a little bit better.  Read on to learn more about Coach McDonald’s coaching career, his connection to breast cancer and why he is proud to wear pink.

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Coach Ken McDonald is currently in his third season with the Austin Spurs.

1. Tell us about your coaching career background and how/why you ended up coaching Austin Spurs. 
I got into coaching right out of college at the college level for 18 yrs starting at Clemson then onto Western Kentucky, Georgia, and Texas.

In 2012, I interviewed for an assistant coaching job for the Austin Toros at the time and got the job. At the end of my first year in the D-League my head coach, Taylor Jenkin’s, took a position with the Atlanta Hawks. I was elevated to head coach and have been the head coach since.

It’s been an incredible opportunity to be a part of a World Class organization. The opportunity to learn about every aspect of the NBA from the coaches and management has really helped me as a coach.

2. What is your goal coaching the Austin Spurs this season?
The goal each year starts with Development:
-Create a culture that helps players get better each day so they can achieve their goals.
-Represent the Spurs franchise by playing competitive basketball the right way.
-Give back to our fans and community. Lots of opportunity to positively impact people of     all ages through our sport.

“I always look forward to rocking the pink!”
– Austin Spurs Head Coach Ken McDonald

3. Do you have a connection to breast cancer and if so, can you tell us a little bit about that?
I do have a close connection to breast cancer. My mother and sister are breast cancer survivors. I remember being very young when I first found out about this disease. It’s hard to find someone you know that hasn’t been personally affected by it. I also know that advancements have been made and how important early detection is in fighting and beating this terrible disease. 

4. The PINK night with the Austin Spurs is coming up on January 29 and has become an annual tradition. Can you tell us about this particular game and what it means to give back to your community?

This has become a very special and exciting night for us. Our players understand the importance of the cause and really want to be a part of the crusade.

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Survivors and Forever Fighters line the court at the 2015 PINK Night recognition ceremony.

Last year right before the game I asked the team how many of them we are affected by this disease and about everyone raised their hand.

Before the game I spoke to a large group of women and shared my experience about my mother and sister being survivors and it was hard to not get emotional. And at the same time it put everything into perspective. We are thankful for the opportunity to spread the word and support the cause.

5. Can we expect to see you wearing pink on January 29th?
You bet. I always look forward to rocking the Pink!

Make sure to reserve your FREE tickets for tomorrow night’s PINK Night with the Austin Spurs at the Cedar Park Center.  The team will be taking on the Idaho Stampede, and the evening will be one you won’t want to miss!


 

Ken McDonald is entering his third season as head coach with the Austin Spurs. He served as an assistant coach during the 2012-13 season with the Toros, helping lead the team to a 27-23 overall record and to the semifinals of the 2013 NBA D-League Playoffs. McDonald has also served as head coach at Western Kentucky University (2008-11), where he led the team to the Sun Belt Regular Season Championship and Sun Belt Tournament Championship (2009). McDonald spent four seasons (2008-2012) as an assistant coach at the University of Texas under Head Coach Rick Barnes, who he has considered his mentor during his coaching career. In addition to guiding the Longhorns to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, he also helped the team reach a 106-35 (.752) record throughout the four seasons he was with the team, which is still ranked as the most victories in a four-year period in school history. McDonald has also served as an assistant coach at the University of Georgia (2003-04), Western Kentucky University (1998-2003) and Clemson University (1994-98). He graduated from Providence College, where he played shooting guard (1991-92), before playing professionally for the St. Paul Revelles in Ireland (1993-94). While playing at the Community College of Rhode Island (1989-90) prior to transferring to Providence, McDonald was a first-team Junior College All-American and set school records for single-season scoring (754 points) and 3-pointers made in a game (9) and season (109). McDonald was born and raised in Providence, R.I. He has one daughter, Ella, who was born in 2008. 

 

 

 

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Research Round Up: The Path of a Moonshot

Did you know that since 1999, Susan G. Komen® Austin has contributed more than $5M to breast cancer research?  As an Affiliate Network, Susan G. Komen has invested more than $889M in breast cancer researchers across 49 states and 20 countries. The Komen Affiliate Network is second only to the federal government in funding for breast cancer research.

President Obama has announced just this week a cancer “moonshot”, calling for the United States to become the first nation to eradicate cancer.  In response, Dr. Judith Salerno, President and CEO of Susan G. Komen stated in her Huffington Post blog piece, “…the cancer community is willing, it is able, and it is more than ready to run this last mile in mankind’s long journey against a cunning killer.”

Just as the race to the moon was complete with incremental successes that led to an ultimate victory, the path to eliminating breast cancer is now a very real possibility, due in large part to Komen.  Take a look at what Komen has done specifically for the breast cancer research community since its inception in 1982.

1. By the numbers
Research dollars raised by the Komen Affiliate Network have funded:
-2400 research grants in 49 states and 20 countries
-460 clinical trials
-300 research advocates
-60 partnerships and collaborations
-60 scientific conferences
(komen.org)

 2. Survival
In 1980, the five-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer was about 74 percent. Today, it’s 99 percent.  Today, there are more than 3 million breast cancers survivors in the U.S.
(komen.org)

3. Metastatic Breast Cancer
While the breast cancer survival rate has improved, statistics show that as many as 30% of all early stage breast cancers will become metastatic.  To date, Komen has invested more than $147 million in over 370 research grants and 35 clinical trials focused on MBC.  In addition, Komen founded the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance, in partnership with a wide variety of breast cancer organizations.  Through these efforts, Komen is dedicated to understanding MBC, as well as advancing research working with the metastatic community at the national level to find better, more effective treatments through research and to meet the needs of the metastatic patients and families.

4. More research
The federal government now devotes more than $850 million each year to breast cancer research, treatment and prevention, compared to $30 million in 1982.  This year, Komen will contribute over $44M to breast cancer research and continue to be the largest private funder of breast cancer research in the U.S., with 50% of all funding specifically targeting MBC.  (komen.org)

While Komen Austin makes an incredible local impact through the community health partners that it funds each year, it is important to note that the organization also plays a dynamic role in fighting breast cancer on a global scale through research.


 

Throughout the year, the Komen Austin Blog will bring you an in depth look at the research that Komen funds.  For more information on Komen Research, please visit the “We Fund Research” page.

5 Ways to Break Your New Year’s Resolutions…and NOT Feel Guilty

We’ve all been there on January 1st: staring into the horizon at the bright and shiny New Year. Full of hope, possibilities, and potential. Ready to take on the world one brussel sprout and 5K training program at a time. Then, January 8th rolls around and the bed is warmer than the road you planned to run on at 5:30 in the morning. Pizza definitely looks better than your brussel sprouts, and all of a sudden, you find yourself falling back in the same routine as the previous year, and soon all hopes of turning over a new leaf seem lost.

We have good news for you: all hope is not lost! You can still break those New Year’s resolutions and stay on the path to becoming a better version of your current self.

1. Give up the Couch to 5K plan
…but substitute that with an activity that you will actually enjoy doing. The start of a new year tends to bring out the over achiever in us all. Sometimes that includes committing yourself to something that would sound miserable under any other circumstance.

A great way to experience different classes and venues around town is with Class Pass . Whether yoga, barre, Pilates or running is your style, get up and move. When you do something that makes you happy, you will want to do more.

Maybe it’s even just a matter of telling yourself that you will take the stairs instead of the elevator or parking a little further back than you did last year. Take a 15 minute walk at lunch to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air and clear your mind. You will be amazed at how small changes make a big impact.

If you do decide to stick with your running goals, check out these upcoming quintessential Austin Races:

Austin Marathon and Half-Marathon – February 14th
Learn how you can advance the Komen Austin mission through awareness and fundraising with Austin Gives Miles (link to AGM).
Cap10K – April 10th
Race for the Cure – September 25th

2. Trash the New Pre-Planned Raw Vegan Diet
…and figure out which healthy foods you actually like. Experiment with different foods and find out which tastes are appealing to you. Once you start finding the foods that you enjoy, start finding recipes that fit your budget, lifestyle and preferences.

Remember, healthy lifestyle choices may help lower your risk of different types of cancer and other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Visit komen.org for even more ways to stay healthy in 2016.

3. Drink MORE
Water that is! Shoot for adding a glass of water per day for the first week. Then add on another one the second week. The goal is to drink “half” of your body weight in ounces (e.g. if you weigh 150lbs, aim to drink 75oz of water each day).

Can’t stand the taste of water? Check out these yummy ways to spice up your water. Make it easy on yourself by preparing a set amount of water the night before in a portable container. Your mind, body, and skin will thank you – we promise!

4. Take fewer vacations
Take 2016 to live like a tourist in your own town. So many times we tend to take for granted all of the beauty and excitement that lives right in our backyard. Experience a new restaurant , explore a new swim spot, discover a new artist, or take a hike. You can also catch a local sports team in action. The Austin Spurs are hosting their annual Pink Night to benefit Komen Austin on January 29th at the Cedar Park Center.

With so many inexpensive and sometimes free things to do in your own town, not only will you develop a deeper appreciation for your community, but you may even save some money while you are at it!

5. Don’t worry about getting rid of the old
Instead, focus on what gives you meaning and purpose each day. Cultivate these things and by doing so, the “old” that is no longer needed will naturally find its way out of your life.

As you can see, taking a personalized and mindful approach to the New Year can be more fun and rewarding than a tired, one-size-fits-all approach. Be gracious to yourself and enjoy each day that comes. We at Komen Austin wish you a year of happiness, health and good fortune.

-Komen Austin


Throughout 2016, Komen Austin will bring you a variety of ways to stay happy and healthy in these weekly blog posts. Watch for local guest bloggers, exciting news, and much more!

Next week: Research Round Up, a look at Komen research advancements.