Over the next few weeks, volleyball fans will see a number of their school teams sporting different colors.
Lehighton, Marian and Panther Valley girls' volleyball teams will decorate their gyms, sell shirts or wear either violet or pink during special home games in the hopes of raising awareness for cancer prevention and treatments.
Lehighton will kick things off on Thursday evening with "Match with a Meaning," when they face off against Pocono Mountain East.
The night will include the school's pep band/marching band performing throughout the evening; and the cheerleading squad doing performances between games. The school choir and show choir will open things off by singing the national anthem.
The Indians will sport their normal maroon and gold uniforms; but they'll decorate the gymnasium in violet, which represents the ribbon color for Hodgkins Lymphoma.
TJ O'Connor, Lehighton girls' volleyball varsity coach, explained that his team decided to take a different path with raising awareness about cancer because Hodgkins Lymphoma has touched the school on a personal level.
"We have a student within our district and we are working with his family," O'Connor said. "The young man has Hodgkins Lymphoma, which is the type of cancer we're going to be rallying against. We're going to be decorating the entire gym violet. We wanted to do something deeper within in our own community and try to make more of a specific impact.
"We want to thank our community for coming together to make something like this happen because our slogan for the event is, 'As one, we're strong. As a team, we're mighty. But, as a community, we're unstoppable,'" O'Connor continued. "That's something we really want to get together as a community in Lehighton. We put ourselves together for one cause and we can make a difference and show our kids that's important in life."
On Tuesday, Oct. 9, both Marian and Panther Valley will be hosting separate "Dig Pink" festivities on their home turfs. The Fillies will host Weatherly, while the Panthers will face off against Pine Grove.
Both programs hope that by participating in the nationally known "Dig Pink" event, which was created by the Side-Out Foundation, it will help raise awareness about the importance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
This will be Marian's fourth "Dig Pink" event that they participated in.
Last year, the Fillies, who will wear pink jerseys during the game, raised $2,000 to help with the cause. This year, they hope to surpass that total.
John "Doc" Fallabel, Marian volleyball head coach, said he is glad the school is taking part in the festivities again this season.
"It's wonderful," Fallabel said. "We try to acknowledge a cancer survivor somewhere from inside the program someone's grandmother, aunt, mother and sisters. It's a women's sport. So, they all have to be aware of their bodies and what's going on. It's nice for them to be aware of it.
"It's more pride than about emotion," he added. "It gives them something they know they're doing good."
At Panther Valley, head coach Nancy Filer, said the girls know they're doing something good since they're the ones that came up with the idea.
"They have chosen to sell the pink ribbon silicone bracelets during the month of October," Filer said. "In addition, the booster club will be donating money from a T-shirt sale and the profit from the concession stand the night of the event.
"All money from the bracelets, T-shirts and the concession stand will be donated to the Side-Out Foundation."
In addition to special events, the Pleasant Valley volleyball team has been doing things differently to raise money for good causes.
Since 1996, veteran coach John Gesiskie and his Bears' program has been holding a "Kids Night Out" for United Way event and to date they have raised a total of $24,220.
As part of the fundraiser, the Pleasant Valley players, coaches and parents host a night where they treat elementary school students to some fun and games in the high school gymnasium.
In addition, Pleasant Valley turns over the concession stand profits and money it makes from selling T-shirts at its annual volleyball tournament to Relay for Life.
ONE VICTORIOUS NIGHT FOR THE BLUE RAIDERS ..... Last Wednesday was one very active day for the fall athletic programs at Tamaqua Area School District as there were five different sports that were competing on different fields that evening.
However, it's not too often to see that all five boys and girls soccer, girls volleyball, girls tennis and cross country all come away with wins on the same night. There will be no bragging rights along the different sports for that days as all five came out victorious.
The Blue Raiders scored a 4-2 win over Blue Mountain in girls' soccer, a 4-1 win over Pine Grove in boys' soccer and a 4-1 win over Hazleton in girls' tennis. The Tamaqua cross country team scored a complete sweep of Schuylkill Haven, while the volleyball team had the most memorable night. The Blue Raiders scored a 25-14,25-21, 27-25 sweep of Pocono Mountain West to earn its first win of the season.
ON THE SPOT ..... Northern Lehigh senior Kayla Brensinger knows firsthand how it feels to be under pressure.
As time expired in regulation field hockey game against Moravian Academy, the Bulldogs were awarded a penalty stroke thanks to the Lions' committing a miscue inside the goal box. With all eyes on her, Brensinger took the penalty stroke for her Bulldogs' team. With the score deadlock at 1-1, it was either score and give her Bulldogs a 2-1 victory or not and foresee an overtime period ahead. Brensinger didn't disappoint at all and pushed the ball to the back of the Lions' cage.
With doing so, the Bulldogs celebrated a 2-1 victory and Brensinger breathed a sigh of relief.
NO TIME TO REST AT THE NET ..... It has been one busy week for the Pleasant Valley girls' volleyball team. The Lady Bears have played five matches four Mountain Valley Conference and two non-conference with only one days rest in a span of six days.
Since last Wednesday, the Lady Bears have walked off the floor with wins in their last five matches. For their efforts, PV remains undefeated in the Mountain Valley Conference at 5-0, while sport a overall record of 13-1 thus far this season.
In three consecutive MVC matches, the Bears knocked off recent arch rival Lehighton, Pocono Mountain West and Pocono Mountain East. Over the weekend, PV needed four games to come out on top against Whitehall, of the Lehigh Valley Conference. And, Monday night, the Bears scored its first-ever victory against another LVC power in Freedom, in which they scored a 25-23, 25-16, 25-20 win over the Patriots in Brodheadsville.
MVC TENNIS CHAMPS .... Last Friday, Pleasant Valley hosted the Mountain Valley Conference tennis tournament.
After the events came to a completion, the Bears finished third as a team.
The Bears' Emily Thek was the lone individual to walk away as a champion. Thek captured the No. 3 singles' title as she defeated Stroudsburg's Faith Thaler, 8-5 in proset play.
The Bears' No. 2 singles player Kara Urland and the Bears' No. 4 doubles' team of Cassi Snook and Ellie Heran just missed out of top honors. Both fell short in the final and finished with second place honors.
"I have always stressed to the team that supporting your community is a big part of being an athlete," Gesiskie said. "When the community sees that athletes are backing them up in tough times, I feel it helps the community realize athletes know that life is not always fun and games."