‘Dig Pink’ Games Support Breast Cancer

Members of the varsity volleyball team at St. Edmund Prep H.S. took part in a “Dig Pink” match to support breast cancer awareness. (Photo courtesy St. Edmund Prep H.S.)

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and a pair of local high school girls’ volleyball programs dedicated this month to supporting the cause.

The varsity and junior varsity teams from St. Edmund Prep H.S., Sheepshead Bay, and St. John’s Prep, Astoria, each hosted “Dig Pink” volleyball matches to benefit breast cancer research.

Each year, more than 1,000 women in New York City die from breast cancer, according to data from the N.Y.C. Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Aside from lung cancer, breast cancer – which can have no signs or symptoms – is the second-leading cause of cancer death among women in the city.

However, when detected early, breast cancer can be cured. That’s why the efforts of these student-athletes have raised awareness to the fact that early detection saves lives.

In volleyball, the term “side out” means to regain control of the ball. The Side Out Foundation works to help those afflicted with breast cancer and their families regain control of their lives.

For the third straight year, the proceeds from St. Edmund’s monthlong fundraiser benefitted the Side Out Foundation, which specifically supports research into stage IV metastatic breast cancer.

“We all are affected by the disease, whether it’s directly or through a family member or a friend,” said Claire McNeice, a senior setter and team captain who served as this year’s Side Out ambassador. “Unfortunately it plays a role in all our lives and affects all of us.

“We thought the best way to help out and give back was to raise money to help support research for a cure.”

On Oct. 15, the Eagles hosted Msgr. McClancy H.S., East Elmhurst, for a “Dig Pink” doubleheader. The varsity and junior varsity teams wore special pink jerseys, and both teams rallied to support the cause.

In the weeks leading up the matches, the volleyball players held bake sales and sold T-shirts and pink bracelets. Students also enjoyed a dress-down day by donating $3 as part of the donation to Side Out. Many of the students showed their support by wearing pink.

During the matches, students sold raffle tickets for prizes donated by local businesses. Already, St. Edmund’s has exceeded its fundraising goal of $2,500.

“It was definitely meaningful to all of us because we all realize the significance of breast cancer,” said junior libero/setter Juliana Moule, who is all set to be next year’s Side Out ambassador. “Since we’re always together as a team anyway, essentially we put our efforts into one joint cause and got something big out of it.”

In addition to the varsity and junior varsity matches, St. Edmund’s held its annual student vs. faculty volleyball fundraising match on Oct. 26 as part of “Dig Pink” Spirit Day. All of the school’s girls’ sports teams participated in what was once again a spirited match.

St. John’s Supports Cause

While the Eagles spearheaded the effort in Brooklyn, it was St. John’s Prep that took the lead in Queens. The Red Storm junior varsity and varsity volleyball teams hosted Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, for “Dig Pink” matches on Oct. 22.

Just like at St. Edmund’s, the student-athletes sold pink bracelets throughout October to raise money for a donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. This year marked the second straight year St. John’s Prep has supported the cause, with all proceeds from admission benefitting the foundation.

“We got involved because this is very serious and people need to know about it,” said freshman outside hitter Katie Martinez. “All the teachers were really supportive and were always asking for more bracelets, and they even sold some too.

The players also hung posters throughout the school and encouraged their fellow students to donate more than just the cost of the bracelet.

“I feel like it’s something that needs to be talked about,” said sophomore outside hitter Martina Urgo. “People should know what it’s about and really support it and start to look into it. It’s very meaningful to know we’re putting money toward a good cause.”

Every little bit counts toward someday finding a cure for breast cancer, so the efforts of these two schools will not be overlooked.

As local leaders in the fight against breast cancer, St. Edmund Prep and St. John’s Prepare doing their part to raise awareness of a disease that can be cured if caught early.

Contact Jim Mancari via email at