On Oct. 15, members and supporters of the Linganore High School girls volleyball team likely will be dressed in pink when it plays host to Walkersville.
The color, which players and coaches on both teams will wear, is designed to show their support for breast cancer survivors, patients, victims and research to cure the disease.
“It is a special occasion and a growing tradition,” Lancers coach Barb Ferguson said. “We've had a couple teachers speak in previous years and other people closely affected by breast cancer. It's a very nice moment.
“Breast cancer hasn't hit close to home for me, but I've had family members have other forms of cancer. This is a very important cause to raise money and awareness for.”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month throughout the country and the majority of the county's girls volleyball teams will be participating in at least one Dig Pink match, a fundraising event for breast cancer research, in the coming weeks.
Many college and high and middle school programs annually hold the charity event. Fans should check with each individual team for exact date, time and location.
The Side-Out Foundation, which helps organize the benefit matches, was established in 2004 by Northern Virginia resident and volleyball coach Rick Dunetz, whose mother has battled the disease.
Teams typically accept donations at the door, but several have invented various ways to make their Dig Pink matches memorable. Players often wear pink jerseys, warm-up outfits, socks or hair ribbons. Additionally, they organize contests and raffles and sell baked goods.
“A friend of my wife is a survivor,” Tuscarora coach Ricardo Vera said. “Every October, when breast cancer research is at the front of everyone's mind, it is a special time. Dig Pink is a great way to have fun and raise some money for a good cause.”
Oakdale coach Jim Dorsch agrees.
“I've lost a sister and mother-in-law to breast cancer,” he said. “That is one of the reasons why I am a big supporter of [Dig Pink]. Last year, a mother of one of the girls had an operation [for breast cancer] on the night of our Dig Pink match.”
Linganore visits Urbana on Tuesday when the Hawks plan to host their annual event. All proceeds will be donated to Side-Out.
“We've been doing this for a while,” said Urbana coach Kevin McCoy, who added that there will be a serving contest. “All the players have pink jerseys and everybody is invited to wear pink. I wear a big pink Hawaiian shirt that all the girls hate.
“I haven't been personally affected by breast cancer, but I know people that have. All the Dig Pink events are great.”
Walkersville is scheduled to host its own Dig Pink match Oct. 23 against Smithsburg.
The Lions have been holding fundraising events during all of their home matches this fall. Between the junior varsity and varsity matches, the team hosts a serving contest. For a dollar donation, spectators try to hit targets on the other side of the net to win a prize, which have been donated by local businesses.
“We have several family members of our team members [that] have struggled with breast cancer,” Walkersville coach Jess Sowerbrower said. “And there will be several survivors presents at our Dig Pink Event.”
Saint John's Catholic Prep is scheduled to participate in an eight-team Dig Pink charity tournament at Annapolis Area Christian School on Oct. 13.
To help benefit breast cancer research and in conjunction with the tournament, the Vikings are participating in a serve-a-thon.
Middletown, meanwhile, is planning on hosting a fundraising event in late October, but the Knights won't be hosting a Dig Pink dedicated event this fall. Coach Aubrey Pfau said her program is looking into raising money to support military veterans or for muscular dystrophy research since a Middletown student has a form of the disease.