October is a month that brings about a lot of fanfare by many.
There’s the arrival of cooler weather (sans Florida), pumpkin spice lattes and Halloween, but there’s one thing that means just a bit more: breast-cancer awareness.
Around the country, people are celebrating National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by wearing pink and helping to raise money for research and prevention, and Rollins College is also looking to lend a helping hand.
On Friday, Oct. 5, the women’s volleyball team will be holding its annual “Dig Pink” game against Saint Leo at Warden Arena.
“As athletes and coaches, we recognize that we have a platform based on our participation in sports, and our participation and our ability to compete is a privilege and blessing,” head coach Mika Robinson said. “If we can use that as a good platform to raise money for other causes or things that are important to us, I think there is a whole lot of value in that.”
The Tars volleyball team is taking that platform and utilizing it in a few different ways for the upcoming game. The first comes in the form of an online fundraiser that has been underway for the last week that seeks to raise $1,000 for the Side-Out Foundation — a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2004 to unite volleyball coaches and players to help breast-cancer patients and their families. Funds raised for Side-Out will go toward a clinical trial for patients with stage-four breast cancer.
For those looking to snag a jersey, the Tars also will be auctioning special edition pink jerseys the team will be wearing in the game on Friday night. The school also has asked that those who attend the game wear pink to honor those who have been affected by breast cancer.
Although Robinson said she wasn’t sure when the program first started the “Dig Pink” game, she said it was something she has been participating in for quite some time now as a coach.
“They had had some ‘Dig Pink’ games in the past as well, prior to my arrival, but we’ve done it every year that I have been here,” Robinson said. “It’s something that I’ve always done at every school I’ve been at — whether it was high school or college.”
It makes sense that the issue of breast cancer would be a big cause for fundraising for women’s programs: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women.
“The fight against breast cancer is a pretty common event for most volleyball programs,” Robinson said. “Most of us have been affected by breast cancer in some way, shape or form — either it be a family member of friend. … I had an aunt who passed away from complications from breast cancer. I had a former assistant who was a breast cancer survivor and numerous other friends who have either fought the battle or had close relatives who fought the battle.”
Although the “Dig Pink” game has generally been its biggest fundraiser, the volleyball program has found a habit of helping those in need in whatever way they possibly could.
Last year, the team helped collect supplies to send to Puerto Rico after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria, and earlier this season, it hosted its first “Colorful and Courageous” game to raise funds for pediatric cancer. At that game, the team also collected crayons and coloring books for local kids fighting cancer.
The game on Friday night will be just another game for the Tars, but the pink on their jerseys and the pink in the stands will make it — symbolically — feel like a match where they will be fighting for something greater than just a win.
“To be able to use our platform to help that cause is just something that we just believe in as far as just giving back to the community,” Robinson said. “It’s a worthy cause and something that we’re excited to help support.”