Whittell volleyball swaps red and white for pink
ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. – For the past few weeks, the Whittell volleyball team has warmed up on the court in oversized tie-dye shirts while the other team is in their game uniforms. Then, just before the National Anthem is played, they sneak out of the gym and put on bright pink, long sleeve jerseys with “Whittell” in white letters on the back. It’s a big change from the normal school colors that the team usually sports, and for good reason.
“The girls wanted to get them to raise awareness about breast cancer,” said head volleyball coach Nate Byrne. “I just thought they were a cool idea, something simple you can do to help raise awareness, so we went for it.
“It’s a great idea and something that should be talked about.”
The idea started with senior setter Nina Jimenez and her mom Pam Jimenez, who presented the idea to the team. Last year Whittell volleyball wore pink ribbons and shoelaces and aspired to do something more.
“We wanted our volleyball season to be a better cause,” Nina said. “We have a lot of people in our community who have family members or friends that have passed away from breast cancer and so we thought it was a prevalent issue that the community would support.
“I talked to the team and they all agreed they wanted to go all out. A lot of the other teams wear pink socks, but we wanted something that would stand out.”
The team initially purchased the jerseys out of their own budget, spending about $500 on them, until they were able to find a sponsor.
“We went into it without any sponsors and kept looking and got Barton Orthopedics and Sports Medicine to sponsor us,” Nina said. “And we’re still looking, we’re in contact with other places to get more donations.”
“A good chunk of change, but it’s worth it,” said Byrne. “The girls enjoy it, they’re excited to play in them, and it’s only for one month, so as soon as November gets here we’re switching back to the red and white.”
A portion of the jersey cost went towards breast cancer research, along with a portion of Barton’s donation. But the team’s drive to raise money and awareness didn’t stop at the jerseys. The school hosted a four-on-four volleyball tournament on Oct. 14, an off-day for students, which raised $160 for research. Other sports teams have also got into the act.
“I think after we got the jerseys, other teams saw that and they decided that it be a good idea. So the football team is wearing pink socks now. It’s just kind of a chain reaction,” Nina said. “We didn’t plan on that at all.”
Byrne said that this just speaks to the character of the team.
“They just care, they’re really good girls,” he said. “Honestly I have one of the best teams in terms of just personalities. In terms of kids they all want to do their part, they all want to help.”
“I think it’s just a mind set of making something bigger than yourselves,” Nina said. “And that’s kind of what volleyball is in general, or any team sport, making it about the team and not yourself. And I think the jerseys get you in that mindset.”
Not that anybody at Whittell is keeping track, but it might be worth noting that as of Thursday, the team had yet to lose a match in the pink jerseys.
“If we when in them that’s a good thing, but we don’t really believe in luck or superstition, just hard work,” Byrne said.
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