Cure Bowl’s cause hits close to home for San Jose State’s Simon Connette


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Simon Connette lost his mother, Nancy, to breast cancer prior to the 2015 season.

ORLANDO — Simon Connette wears a wristband on his right wrist but he doesn’t wear it to make a fashion statement or to support his favorite team, the wristband that the senior San Jose State safety wears is to honor and carry on the name of his late mother Nancy, who died due to breast cancer during the Spring.

Breast cancer affects 1 out of every 8 women according to and for Connette it hit close to home earlier this year when at the age of 21 he lost his mother. Now when he plays in the inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl on Saturday he’ll not only be playing for his mom but playing to bring awareness to the disease that took his mother.

“Obviously going through what my family and I have gone through, it really means a lot coming to this bowl game because of the significance of its message – finding a cure for cancer, which has affected so many people,” said Connette at the Cure Bowl press conference on Thursday. “Just to be a part of this and knowing that it is supporting such a good cause, really means a lot to me because I don’t want anyone to feel what I and my family have to feel.”

For Connette everything he does is in honor of his late mother and he says he thinks about here every second of every day. But his San Jose State family have helped him through the tough times, sending him cards and receiving phones calls from concerned teammates throughout the whole time he was away from the team to spend time with his mom.

“I mentioned earlier the challenge in his life that he faced that no one at the age of 22 or younger should have to face. His strength and bounce-back is very inspiring to myself and our team members that supported him through it.” said San Jose State head coach Ron Caragher. “When he was ready, he came back and fully immersed in football preparation for his senior year. We are really fortunate to have Simon a part of our football team as student, athlete and young-man off the field.”

Breast cancer hasn’t only affected one Spartan player this year, as punter Michael Carrizosa has also had his mother affected by the disease . But Connette has used his experience to try and help a fellow teammate the way his teammates rallied around him when he needed them.

“I try to talk to him all the time about it. I tell him to stay positive about it. There is a fight and the fight can be won,” said Connette about the advice he gives his team’s punter. “I just try to pray for him and really have everyone rally around him because I know how tough this time can be and all the different thoughts that you have. Clearly, he has done a very good job with it as well as he has done this year. I just try rallying around him.”

Coach Caragher also understands the importance of the Cure Bowl and the awareness it brings to a disease that is estimated to claim over 40,000 lives in 2015, according to, and considered it an honor to be able to play in a bowl game that also is contributing to finding a cure.

“The purpose became apparent when we talked as a group – raising awareness and also to contributing towards finding a cure. The fact that we have experienced it and it has touched so close to home with our parents or moms. We get to play in this game and it is an honor to be able to do so.”

The Cure Bowl will be having the Florida Hospital Cure Village outside of the Orlando Citrus Bowl on Saturday and will be offering mammogram testing in an effort to help women and men detect breast cancer while it is still treatable and according to statistics 1 in every 8 women who will be tested on Saturday will be diagnosed with a form of breast cancer.

At the end of the day the Cure Bowl is a football game, but for both the organizers and some of the men on the field, this game is much bigger than football, it’s about a cause.

For Simon Connette this game doesn’t just mean he’s playing for the memory and honor of his late mother, but rather the whole team will be playing for Nancy Connette on Saturday.

Christian Tago our linebacker on one of the cards he sent me was this year is for Mother Connette. As it turns out, we are in the Cure Bowl. It is kind of ironic at how it worked out. It was huge to have all the support.” said Connette about being in this bowl game.

The AutoNation Cure Bowl is different from most of college footballs bowl games as it is the only bowl game not only have it’s name tied to a cause but also to donate a portion of ticket sales directly to a charity, in this case breast cancer research.