This experience working with Side-Out has transformed the capabilities of passion and volleyball in my mind. Volleyball has always been an integral part of my life. However, I never considered the impact it could have outside the court.
My mother’s best friend was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer this past summer. She has been a constant in my life and somebody that matters very much to my family. Then, out of the blue, my varsity coach introduced Side-Out as an initiative I could implement this season.
At first, I was intimidated; a breast cancer campaign had never been run at our international school. But my heart went out to my mother’s friend. The ball was in my court; I was being given a chance to use leadership and passion for something more than a trophy. I was going to help real people like my mother’s friend live longer, healthier, and fuller lives. I set my mind on making this Dig Pink campaign as successful as possible.
Educating myself on breast cancer surprised me. According to resources like Breast Cancer Answers, stage IV is the most difficult and aggressive stage of cancer, but it is also one of the lowest funded and researched. This means that individuals who are diagnosed have few options to inspire their will to keep fighting. I learned that survivors must treat their condition consistently and routinely to ensure that it won’t return.
I was particularly impacted by Sarah Pascual, a young breast cancer survivor and a college student struggling to pay the bills needed for her treatment. Her story showed me how money impacted the opportunity to fend for your own life.
As a result, I had two goals going in:
1. To raise breast cancer awareness in my community as breast cancer is neither comfortably or widely discussed in Korean culture.
2. To motivate our small international school community to become unified and fully participate.
I introduced Dig Pink to the volleyball players by explaining the critical importance of funds that go towards finding better and more affordable ways to assist cancer patients. They were excited to get involved and agreed to wear pink spandex to help promote the campaign.
I created a logo based on the Korean flag and our school’s mascot. Before our first home game, I shot a hype video for our varsity team introducing the “Play for Pink” campaign, asking TCIS to “Play For Pink this Fall.” This stirred up curiosity among the students. Then, I personally contacted teachers and parents with information about our campaign and asked them to donate to our cause. I worked with our Pep Rally Committee to base this year’s Pep Rally around Play For Pink and host a PINK OUT for the entire school on the day of. I asked the teams for all the Fall Sports (tennis, cross country, and volleyball) to help us promote. Then I designed Play For Pink t-shirts and ordered breast cancer awareness products to sell and give our student body an opportunity to buy pink items.
Before I knew it, the day had arrived! We sold out of all our products over the course of two days before the Pep Rally, donations had exceeded our goal of $750 at $1110, and our entire TCIS community was a sea of pink. “I’ve never seen this level of participation at TCIS.” commented my peers and teachers, equally amazed.
Our fall season had become more than playing volleyball. I came to a realization that the purpose of passion is not to excel in success for yourself, but to use that extra energy, love, and commitment to help others around you. I think of my mom’s friend and know the money we raised, the awareness we cultivated, will go towards assisting strong, determined individuals who deserve to overcome breast cancer.
Dig Pink has not only changed me but also shown leaders in our sports programs how they can use their love for sports beyond the court/field. Next year, I am so excited because my underclassmen are interested in hosting Dig Pink again, perhaps paving the way for this campaign to become a tradition at TCIS! I am endlessly grateful for the unity Dig Pink cultivated and moved by the eagerness and support of our small school.