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Team of the Week: Westminster girls basketball
OCVarsity is honoring the Westminster girls basketball team as its Team of the Week for its outstanding achievements on and off the court.
If you know of a team that should be considered for this honor, please email us at email@example.com.
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WESTMINSTER - Harriet Katz can be found at Westminster girls basketball games sitting at the scorer's table, where she assumes the role of scorekeeper for her husband, Dick's, team.
Harriet has been looking on as the Lions advanced through the CIF-SS Division 1A playoffs.
Westminster reached the semifinals by through its opponents, but the Lions and the Katz family are trying to help defeat an opponent that's much tougher than any they'll see on the hardwood.
In 2010, Harriet was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 65. To have just one person in a family suffering from breast cancer is debilitating enough. The news the family received next wouldn't make things any easier.
A year later, Dick and Harriet's daughter, Tina, would also be diagnosed with breast cancer.
"We took the test and we were negative for the gene (which may show a hereditary link to the disease)," Harriet said. "So the fact that we both got it (breast cancer), was kind of surprising."
After losing a breast, Harriet had reconstructive surgery, which caused her to be away from the team. With Harriet away and Tina having to go through a double mastectomy, the team decided to honor the two.
The girls decided to help try to raise breast cancer awareness by putting pink ribbons on their jerseys.
Even though the girls were trying to advocate about the disease his wife and daughter were suffering from, Dick was skeptical about his team donning the ribbons.
"In the beginning, I wasn't in favor of it." he said. "I'm a basketball coach, I wasn't really interested in the political thing or the situation about breast cancer, even though I deal with it everyday. I thought the basketball court is a different forum."
After some time, Katz now admits that he has no problem with the ribbons and has noticed that it has become acceptable for teams to show support of breast cancer.
Harriet knows the support started because of her, then became about her and her daughter, but she never saw the honor as just about the family.
"In all honesty, I think it's in support of all people with breast cancer," She said. "Breast cancer doesn't care if you're rich or poor, black or white, old or young, it's about everybody."
Katz believes the jerseys have helped raise awareness and said she has been asked about them multiple times. It's just one of the ways, along with walks, fundraisers and tests, that the family has used in order to help the breast-cancer community.
For now, though, Katz is enjoying her time with those who have helped her cause.
"It's been wonderful, they are just fantastic," Katz said about the Westminster girls basketball team. "They're great kids, in spite of the basketball, they're just great human beings,"