When Hiram College women’s lacrosse head coach Brianne “Bri” Dishong met 15-year-old Britt Host, she caught a glimpse of herself. She saw an athlete, a winner and a warrior. Dishong and Host shared another common thread: cancer. Dishong, now three years in remission from cancer, has rallied her lacrosse players and the Terriers softball team to cheer Britt on to victory against cancer.
Host, a Waynedale (Apple Creek, Ohio) High School softball player, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. A tumor on her spine left her paralyzed from the waist down. While Host, through rehabilitation, gradually regains function in her legs, she continues to fight cancer – but not without a cheer squad. Dishong, along with Hiram College head softball coach Jackie Mangola and the members of both of their teams, are in a “Battle for Britt.”
“Every game we play, we are playing for Britt,” says Dishong, whose players don T-shirts supporting Host.
The women’s softball and lacrosse teams will dedicate their Sunday, April 17 games as fundraisers for Host, who will throw or catch the first pitch of the Terriers softball team’s 1 p.m. game against Marietta. Host will then lead the women’s lacrosse team out on the field before its 4 p.m. game against Hilbert. Donations collected at the games as well as proceeds from T-shirt and wristband sales will support Host’s family with her medical expenses. Fans are encouraged to wear blue, Host’s favorite color, at the games.
Dishong says she embraces the opportunity to lead support efforts for Host. Diagnosed with cancer at age 22, Dishong says she drew strength from the Slippery Rock University’s women’s lacrosse team, for which she served as an assistant coach at that time.
“That’s how we relate,” says Dishong, referring to her connection with Host as an athlete fueled by team support in her fight against cancer. “My team at Slippery Rock saved my life.”