Welcome to Side-Out, Esther Hon

Esther Hon Head Shot

At the beginning of July, The Side-Out Foundation welcomed Esther Hon to the staff as the New Opportunities Manager. Get to know more about Esther and her previous experiences below! 

Who are you?

Hi, I’m Esther! I graduated from UC Davis in 2011 with Bachelor’s Degrees in both Psychology and Communications and continued on to earn a Master’s Degree in Sports Management, with an emphasis on Program Administration and Coaching. I’m excited about this opportunity to give the volleyball community a platform to make a difference in the way breast cancer is treated and extend the lives of those living with stage IV. I feel blessed to work for such a cause, as well as the chance to empower youth leadership, as I am a firm believer that the growth of the athlete extends way beyond the gym. 

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in San Francisco. I spent several years after college working in the Davis and Sacramento areas, with a brief stint in Stockton. I am currently back living in San Francisco, closer to my sister, Stephanie, and my two adorable nieces, Anie and Mia!

Tell us about your experience with volleyball and breast cancer communities before Side-Out.

I began my volleyball journey when I was in the third grade. Growing up, I was a tri-sport athlete in volleyball, basketball, and Tae Kwon Do, but fully committed to volleyball in high school by playing for a travel club team. I made a late decision to go to UC Davis, a compromise between being closer to family and getting a high-level education. The program had already filled my position, so the following years I played at local open gyms and tournaments.

Esther Hon in her first year of volleyball
When I first started, when the ball was bigger than me!

Wanting to get more volleyball in my system, I signed up for a PE volleyball class, unaware that the NCAA coach was also the instructor! Next thing I knew I had a tryout. From there, I earned a spot on the team for the following season as a senior walk-on for our Division I program! As all this was happening, I was also coaching volleyball. I now have over 15 years of coaching experience at various levels and am currently entering my ninth season with the UC Davis Men’s Club Volleyball program as Head Coach.

Esther Hon with her family
Family supporting me at a match at UC Davis

Along this journey, my tight-knit family was going through a rollercoaster of a time throughout the years. When I was twelve, my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. I was unaware of what that meant at the time, as that was my first introduction to the disease, but I distinctly remember being told my mother wouldn’t make it to see me graduate high school. She went on to battle metastatic breast cancer for fourteen years, never in remission.

My mom’s retirement party- luxury suite at a Giant’s game

She was a fighter. A kind person with a feisty side, my mom never let her cancer define how her life was going to be. In her last year, I recall her telling her oncologist that she was going to make it to see her granddaughter be born so hospice care can wait. Needless to say, I’ve witnessed the importance of living for the memories and fighting for more “tomorrows”.

My mom meeting her granddaughter, Anie!

What is your role at Side-Out?

I will be responsible for developing and creating new opportunities for The Side-Out Foundation. A primary part of this endeavor will be connecting and educating teams about Dig Pink, and how they can participate by bringing a Dig Pink campaign to their program! Moreover, I will be establishing and building relationships to better help our supporters understand how Dig Pink helps to advance our clinical trials and the mission of The Side-Out Foundation. 

Do you have any hidden talents? 

I absolutely love to sing, but when you ask about hidden talent, it’s definitely hidden! Only a select few have ever heard me since I still get so nervous to do so in public. Interestingly enough, public speaking isn’t an issue for me at all! Those that have heard me sing keep pushing for me to share that talent, so I’ve added performing at an open mic night or karaoke to the bucket list.

What three events made the biggest impact on who you are today?

  1. Losing both of my parents, my dad in 2014 and my mom in 2016. Losing both of them was a huge catalyst for me to reevaluate my life and make the necessary changes to feel confident and excited in my future path and do more things that bring me happiness. 
  2. Building a community through volleyball, both playing and coaching. I have met amazing people who have directly shaped me in one way or another. 
  3. Taking a solo trip to Costa Rica a few months ago. I learned so much about myself and got to meet some of the most genuine people I’ve ever met.

Favorite movie and why?

I’m going to have to give you all my top three here!

  1. A League of Their Own. Aside from having an impressive cast, the movie follows the true story of the first women to suit up on the baseball field during World War II. Female empowerment, well done comedic relief, and characters finding themselves through sport? No brainer!
  2. Serendipity. I love the meaning of the word, a fortunate accident. The movie showcases how fate and circumstance can play a large role in our lives, and I do believe all the events in your life define and shape you as a person and lead you on a journey to where you will make the most impact on this world.  It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a RomCom 🙂
  3. Beauty and the Beast. Growing up, Belle was my favorite Disney Princess. She was family-oriented, valued brains over beauty, strong-willed, but also kind. Also, rewatching it as an adult you realize numerous witty comments you miss seeing it as a child. 
Enjoying the sunset at the peak of a hike in Costa Rica.

If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be?

I believe traveling fundamentally transforms us in a multitude of ways. I have a long list of places and cultures I would love to learn more about and experience. A few of the top destinations being Spain, Italy, Thailand, Machu Picchu, and being able to view the Northern Lights!

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