Gophers athletes shed locks for cancer research

Published 9:43 am Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gophers volleyball player Mia Tabberson shaved her head in the name of cancer research Monday at the Bierman Athletic Building.

Tabberson and the university have joined with St. Baldrick’s Foundation to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer research. She said she would cut her locks once she reached her goal of $10,000 for the charity. Tabberson has raised over $12,000.

“It took longer to cut than I thought. I thought it would be one swift move,” Tabberson said of her long locks. “It feels great! It feels soft and fuzzy, and hopefully looks pretty good. So we’ll see what it looks like as it grows out.”

Email newsletter signup

The idea to promote cancer awareness through buzz cuts came from Gopher wide receiver Connor Cosgrove, who is battling leukemia.

Tabberson and more than 60 Minnesota football players have committed to participate, including senior linebacker Mike Rallis, who has not cut his hair in four years.

“People keep asking me if I’m nervous. There’s no way I could be nervous if she just did that,” Rallis said of Tabberson. “Hopefully I look half as good as her afterwards.”

Rallis and Cosgrove were among the football players who receiving their cuts on live television.

“It’s all about Connor,” Rallis said. “He just takes such pride and joy from helping others. That’s what this event is all about, helping Connor.”

Cosgrove said it doesn’t matter what sport you play, this event has shown him that Gophers athletes are a “family.”

“For a guy to do this is one thing, for a college-age girl to do that, it is so overwhelming,” Cosgrove said. “It says a lot about the type of person she is and the type of community Gopher athletics is.”



After multiple treatments of chemotherapy, Cosgrove currently sports a full head of hair. But he, too, is getting it shaved off to raise awareness.

Cosgrove said his cancer is currently in the “maintenance phase,” and he receives chemotherapy treatment once a week along with chemo pills every night.

Cosgrove speaks with an infectious energy, and has the date of his final chemo treatment cemented in his mind.

“It’s honestly something that I think about every day,” Cosgrove said. “I wake up every morning and I think, ‘OK, Jan. 13, 2014, you can do this.’ Whenever I’m down or sad, I just think of that number and I concentrate on that.”

He added: “The biggest goal is to get through that day and to come out of this a survivor. That’s been the only option since Day One. I won’t stop until that happens.”