BELOIT — If all goes the way she hopes, Jessica Jerome will have one of her biggest fans in the stands at Edwards Ice Arena Jan. 12. The Rock County Fury host the Stoughton Icebergs for a “Pink the Rink” hockey game that night at 7.
Even if she can’t make it that night, Jerome is just happy her aunt, Lori Cherf, is still around to watch her play.
“I’m very close to her and she’s a big role model in my life,” the Milton High School senior said of the breast cancer survivor. “It was another case of a bad thing happening to a really great person. “It was hard on everyone in the family when she was diagnosed, but she fought it off like a champ. She always wanted to come to my hockey games, even during her treatment when shew as really tired and not feeling well. She came to every one she could.”
Jerome hopes the teacher from Hillsboro, Wis., be there for the Jan. 12 game because it’s people like her the team is honoring. Other members of the 7-3-1 Fury have have their own families touched by the dreaded disease which makes this particular night even more poignant.
“This game really tugs on people’s heart strings because they remember their loved ones and what they’ve been through,” Jerome said. “It means a lot to me that we’re raising money to try to find a cure to stop a disease that hurts so many people.”
The Fury will raise funds to fight cancer by selling cookies they’re baking and frosting.
“All the proceeds from the event will go to the cancer foundation,” she said.
Jerome said the event is also another opportunity for the team to bond. A Beloit Memorial High School co-op team, the Fury draw players from seven schools. They enjoyed their most successful season ever in 2015-16, qualifying for the WIAA State Tournament.
“We graduated some really good players, but gained some very talented players, too,” Jerome said. “We’ve had our ups and downs. Some of the downs were while we were figuring out what kind of team we had and building team chemistry. Some of the things we did last season didn’t work as well this season. It took some time to adapt and do our own thing. But now chemistry is a strength and we have a very positive atmosphere in and out of the locker room.”
Events like “Pink the Rink” help. The Fury are teaming up with the boys hockey team at Beloit Memorial to make certain it’s a success.
“We’re close with the Knights and we support each other,” Jerome said. “We’ve known each other from youth hockey for a long time. We’re counting on them showing up at our game and we’ll do the same for theirs. Hopefully, we’ll have a big crowd on Jan. 12.”
The Fury have become accustomed to solid fan support. They had the biggest following of any team at state last season.
“The goal definitely is to make it back to the Coliseum this season,” Jerome said. “Is there pressure? There kind of is, I’m not going to lie, but it’s a good pressure. You always want to set your goals high.”