UMass hockey bands together for ‘Movember’

By Ross Gienieczko

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

A recent bye week provided the Massachusetts hockey team a chance to rest, recover and work on developing its game. It was also an opportunity for the Minutemen to grow something else – their mustaches.

For the third consecutive year, UMass is participating in a grassroots movement that has turned mainstream. Its goal is to raise awareness and money for prostate cancer and it goes by a simple name: “Movember.”

Every November since its creation in Australia in the late 1990s, males across the globe have grown mustaches to raise awareness for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer. Since 2004, the movement has been supported by The Movember Foundation, run by CEO Adam Garone. Minutemen coach John Micheletto first joined the cause eight years ago when he was coaching at Vermont.

“I’ve been doing it for eight years since I was made aware of it,” Micheletto said. “It’s to prompt conversation and questions from people … mostly to bring notoriety to men’s health issues.”

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Ever since he became involved with the movement, Micheletto has encouraged his players and staff to get involved. This year, several UMass players are sporting mustaches to support the cause, varying in lengths and styles.

For goaltender Steve Mastalerz though, the cause holds a special meaning. His father Jim is a prostate cancer survivor.

“It’s pretty special to me on a personal level. He had it over 10 years ago, and they found it early which was good,” Mastalerz said. “He’s been cancer-free for a while now and it’s pretty cool that he’s a survivor and to grow a mustache in his honor.”

Mastalerz, a senior, has participated in the program for all four years he has attended UMass.

For most Movember participants, growing a mustache to visually raise awareness is enough. But Micheletto and the Minutemen have joined the thousands of donors worldwide that are raising money for research and other men’s health causes. A team started by Micheletto, dubbed “Mick’s Militia,” raised over $500 already and is still receiving donations.

Micheletto said he wants to encourage fans to get involved in the cause. To donate to his team, followers can log on to and search “Mick’s Militia.”

“You can go to that website and look and search for anybody, donate to their cause and follow along with the pictures people post as their mustaches start to come in,” Micheletto said.

“It’s something that I’ve done since I was 16 when I moved away to play junior hockey,” junior defenseman Ben Gallacher said. “Our junior team (the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League) always did it to try and raise money and awareness for men’s health. I came here and I knew that (Micheletto) was doing it, and figured I’d hop on board for it.”

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Since its creation, over four million men and women have registered as Movember donors. Combined, the men and women donating to the cause have raised $559 million across 21 countries since 2003.

Donations aside, having a mustache in November has become synonymous with prostate cancer awareness. UMass players are certainly active participants, and the Minutemen sporting mustaches are walking advertisements for men’s health awareness. In an informal poll of participating Minutemen, senior defenseman Mike Busillo was the popular choice for best mustache on the team.

As part of the effort to raise awareness for men’s health, UMass has dubbed Friday night’s game against Boston College as “Movember night.” There will be a contest for the best mustache (real or fake) among fans and prizes will be given out to the winners.

Throughout the game, the best mustaches among the Minutemen will be shown on the big screen. Protect Our Breasts has also teamed up and will be running promotions on the concourse.

For Micheletto, there couldn’t be a better cause for the team and school to band together.

“I’ve had family members that have had prostate cancer and after I started doing it, a number of colleagues in the hockey world have come up to me and said that they’re battling it or unfortunately have lost someone to it,” Micheletto said. “(Prostate cancer) is the number one killer of men but it also has the best cure rate if detected early.”

Ross Gienieczko can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @RossGien.