Annie Bartosz sought to make a difference after losing her twin brother Jack to neuroblastoma, a cancer of the developing nerve cells, before his 11th birthday in 2012.
Her efforts continued on Friday when Penn hosted her third annual gold medal game in September (G9) against defending national champion Northwestern. The day was more than the game – won by the Wildcats, 4-3. Bartosz hopes to raise awareness of all forms of childhood cancer through the G9 program.
Just as the world turns pink for breast cancer awareness in October, Bartosz turned gold in September – the color and month of childhood cancer.
“I remember about 10 years ago my local high school [football team] had a game of gold,” Bartosz told the Inquirer. “Since I got into college athletics, I’ve been able to start a few gold games at the most elite level in sport, and I think that really sets the tone for young kids because…it piques your interest and you makes you want to get involved.”
Penn field hockey held its first game for gold of 2019 after Bartosz made a verbal commitment.
Head Coach Colleen Fink and other Penn Athletics members were moved by Bartosz’s story and wanted to help amplify his voice. In September 2021, Penn’s content team released a video explaining Bartosz’s story and the Gold in September cause.
“With the release of this video last year, we had a lot of momentum, many teams at Penn were looking to learn more about how they could support,” Bartosz said. “Even other college field hockey teams are realizing that they could step up and continue to play gold games in the second half of September.”
Northwestern was the perfect opponent for this year’s gold medal game. Bartosz hails from the Milwaukee area, so Northwestern is sort of a local team for her. Three of her former teammates from her youth – Greta Hinke, Chloe Relford and Abby Renaud – are on the North West roster.
Northwestern joined Penn in the cause of gold in September with gold ribbons and armbands.
Penn took on the challenge of playing one-on-one with the best team in the country for much of the game.
With two goals in the first half, the Quakers led the Wildcats for almost 13 minutes. Northwestern entered the third quarter with a three-goal blitz in under five minutes, but the goaltender Frederique Wollaert kept him close with 11 saves to keep the game within one.
Bartosz was unable to rejoin her team on the pitch because she was newly diagnosed with compartment syndrome – an injury that restricts blood flow due to pressure buildup in certain limbs – in both of her calves in the spring last.
Despite being sidelined for the season, she is still Penn’s biggest cheerleader.
“They gave their all for me and for Jack,” Bartosz said. “You could definitely see this fight in the game.”