The Mountain West (MW) Conference has announced a first-ever initiative in conjunction with the San Diego State men’s basketball program and the ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter in support of retired Aztecs coach Steve Fisher, a former Mountain West Basketball Coach of the Year, and the Fisher family of San Diego.
The initiative will bring awareness to the ongoing cutting-edge medical research underway by the ALS Association, as well as the multitude of much-needed services, resources and programs provided by the ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter for people living with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease.
For every Aztecs Mountain West conference home game played at Viejas Arena during the 2019-2020 season, visiting head coaches and their staffs, will be invited to join Aztecs head coach Brian Dutcher and his coaching staff in wearing an ALS lapel pin during the game.
In addition, during warm-ups before the game, players from both teams will be invited to wear specially branded t-shirts featuring the Mountain West and ALS Association logos.
The additional exposure and awareness for ALS will be felt throughout the Mountain West, as the games are nationally televised back to member schools and their fan bases. The ALS Association has chapters throughout the Mountain West footprint in California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
“We’re proud of our coaches who will voluntarily support the ALS Association and the Fisher family with this simple act of a wearing a lapel pin during the game, and our players who choose to wear a special Mountain West and ALS Association t-shirt during warm-ups,” said Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson. “We invite the Mountain West community to join us in the fight against the horrible disease of ALS.”
The initiative is intended to bring awareness to the ALS disease and recognize Coach Fisher, who was at the helm of the SDSU men’s basketball program for 18 seasons before retiring at the end of the 2016-2017 campaign, as well as his son Mark, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. Mark Fisher is currently in his sixth season as an SDSU assistant to the head basketball coach, and 17th year overall at San Diego State.
“Our family extends our sincere gratitude for the participation of the Mountain West Conference, the coaches and the players,” said Fisher. “This means so very much to us. Exposure about the services provided to our son Mark and many other families will help sustain hope and accelerate the research and development of treatments and ultimately a cure for ALS. Thanks to everyone for helping create a world without ALS.”
The Aztecs’ next home game is Saturday, Feb. 1, to face Utah State at 7 p.m. At the game, Los Angeles Clipper Kawhi Leonard, who played for the school from 2009-11, will return for a ceremony at the half to retire his number 15.
The 11 MW men’s teams include the United States Air Force Academy, Boise State University, Colorado State University, Fresno State, University of Nevada, University of New Mexico, San Diego State University, San José State University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Utah State University and University of Wyoming.
From its inception in 1999, the Mountain West (MW) has been committed to excellence in intercollegiate athletics, while promoting the academic missions of its member institutions. Progressive in its approach, the Mountain West continues to cultivate opportunities for student-athletes to compete at the highest level, while fostering academic achievement and sportsmanship. Now in its 21st year, the MW has been assertive in its involvement with the NCAA governance structure and has taken a leadership role in the overall administration of intercollegiate athletics.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in people living with ALS weakens muscles and impacts physical function. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which usually leads to total paralysis. Life expectancy for a person with ALS is within two to five years of diagnosis of initial symptoms. There is no cure, cause or no life-prolonging treatments for the disease.
The ALS Association is the largest private funder of ALS research in the world. The Association funds global research collaborations, provides assistance for people with ALS and their families through its nationwide network of chapters and certified clinical care centers, and advocates for better public policies for people with ALS. The ALS Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while urgently searching for new treatments and a cure.
The Greater San Diego Chapter, chartered in February 2013, is one of 39 chapters nationwide. The San Diego chapter works closely with the ALS San Diego Clinic at the University of California San Diego, which has been certified as a Center of Excellence by the national ALS organization. At its San Diego offices, the local chapter also showcases an ALS bedroom and bathroom that is equipped with features and benefits that would be helpful to people with ALS. For more information about the ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter, visit www.alsasd.org.