On Oct. 3rd, the Mills Cyclones defeated William Jessup University 3-0 at the first annual Dig for the Cure event. The event wove a fundraiser into a traditional competitive volleyball game that raised over $2000 in one night for breast cancer research and awareness.
According to the American Cancer Society, one out of eight women who live to 85 will be diagnosed with breast cancer and an estimated 40,000 women will die from breast cancer this year.
It was statistics such as these that contributed to the birth of the fundraiser in 2003 when Lisa Marston, head volleyball coach at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, originally planned the event in honor of her mother, who is a breast cancer survivor.
According to the official Dig for the Cure website, she started the program just at UNC, but managed to involve the rest of her conference. Marston states that “the word has gotten out and the effort has grown from my Division I program in 2003 to over 100 programs across the country in all divisions and high schools.”
Mills staff members and friends pledged a certain amount of money per dig, according to Daniel Rasay, head volleyball coach. A dig, Rasay explained, is a defensive move in which the player saves a ball after the other team spikes it over the net. Due to Mills’ solid defensive playing the majority of the opposing team’s spikes were met with a dig, resulting in more money raised for breast cancer. An estimated total of over $2,000 was raised on Friday night.
Mills lead the game almost the entire way, by as many as 10 points. Volleyball players, with matching pink bows in their hair as a symbol of support, said that they were inspired to win because of the cause. Junior Cristin Allen said that even though she personally hasn’t been affected by breast cancer, she was motivated to play harder.
“I think it’s inspirational to the people who are playing. It gives us something to play for and made us play harder,” said Alissa Chasten, who’s also a junior. “Seeing the pink papers on the wall reminded me what I was playing for.”
Almost everyone has in some way been affected by breast cancer, says Rasay, and this helped some players be resilient on the court. “Sometimes you go through tough situations, but then compared to cancer, problems such as volleyball are miniscule. I think it really helps you bounce back easily in a game.”
The players may have also been motivated by the cheering and chanting crowd, holding pink signs saying “I Dig” with a volleyball logo.
Rasay explained that he had heard a lot about Dig for the Cure online, since many other schools have hosted the event. He went on to say that it was a good way for his team to do community service and that “since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month we thought we should participate.”
Rasay said that he “didn’t expect to raise a lot of money” – this being the event’s inaugural year at Mills – but he continued “I think everyone enjoyed it and would like to see it grow.”