Soccer players kick off Love Your Melon campaign

Junior soccer player Alyssa Bova (left) admires teammate Ele Costello’s Love Your Melon hat. Both players took the initiative to start a UNA branch of Love Your Melon, an apparel brand whose mission is to give a hat to every child battling cancer.

Members of the UNA soccer team are doing more than just going above and beyond the pitch this off-season in Florence.

Two juniors majoring in business, midfielder Ele Costello and defender Alyssa Bova, brought the Love Your Melon company to UNA, an established apparel brand whose mission is to give a hat to every child battling cancer.

College students across America have a part in the organization, inspiring Costello and Bova to get involved.

“Over the Christmas holiday, I was scrolling through (the internet), and the Love Your Melon company came up,” Costello said. “I thought, ‘Oh, that’s a cool hat,’ and I went to their website. I found out the reasoning behind the company and straight away messaged Bova, because I knew she would be interested.”

Two college students from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, Brian Keller and Zachary Quinn, took an entrepreneurship class. As a result, the two founded Love Your Melon based on a common goal to help children with cancer cover their heads.

Love Your Melon set aside over 45,000 hats for children fighting cancer, thanks to the buy one, give one program, according to the Love Your Melon website. The company cooperates with the Pinky Swear Foundation and CureSearch for Children’s Cancer to help combat the disease and help the victims involved.

When Bova got the call from Costello to help, she said it was an offer she could not refuse, even with the time constraints of being a student athlete.

“It’s a good cause, which is why we wanted to do it,” Bova said. “If you want to get something done, you make time. We like to be involved.”

Costello is the UNA branch’s public relations manager, and Bova is the captain of the crew. Fellow soccer players Grace Piper and Abby Cavitt are the other two main representatives.

Costello said players from other sports, including football, are part of the crew.

With four slots left to fill, she said she plans to reach out to non-athletes.

“If anyone on campus that’s not an athlete wants to join, since it’s such a cool story, we would welcome it,” Costello said.

Athletes getting involved in the cause brings a positive light, said senior Jacob Tucker, a quarterback on the UNA football team and president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee.

“With the SAAC committee, we’re taught to reach out to the community,” Tucker said. “We want to show that student athletes aren’t just the bad reps you see in the media nowadays. The Love Your Melon deal is just another way we can reach out.”

Tucker said the Love Your Melon crew’s ultimate goal is to deliver the hats to the children personally.

“If we’re fortunate enough, we are going to be able to go to the hospital and deliver a hat to a child that needs one,” he said. “Being able to see the smiles on the kids’ faces and being able to talk to people in the community is overwhelming.”

When UNA soccer coach Chris Walker heard his players were utilizing their skills for good causes, it was a proud moment, Walker said.

“The more they can get involved in the community and help out with it is fantastic,” Walker said. “It’s nice to see them use what they went to school for and put it toward a good cause.”

Costello said anyone can order a hat from the website and select “University of North Alabama” to support the campus crew.

To get involved with the Love Your Melon branch at UNA, contact Costello or Bova at [email protected] or [email protected].