October brings a season of cooler weather, pumpkin flavored goodness, and warm beverages, but best of all, October brings a season of spirit and hope to many. While the nation goes pink in an effort to support breast cancer awareness month, the athletic community plays for the cause. Uniquely combining women’s volleyball and soccer, Macalester College engages their school and community in its 9th annual “Dig Pink/Kick Cancer” event held October 10-11th.
Creating an event that would raise money to support two charities (SideOut Foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure) Macalester’s two day events consisted not only of great games but raffle drawings, contests, prizes, and speakers between sets and halftime. While Vice President of Student Affairs, Laurie Hamre spoke about her journey with breast cancer on Friday, former Macalester head soccer coach, John Leary shared his inspiring story on Saturday.
Senior Anya Phillips, a Midfielder/Defender on the soccer team while also being the soccer representative for her school two years before coming on board the S.A.A.C her junior and senior year, now holds the title of S.A.A.C. Chair of Promotions. For Phillips, the event brought her and her team closer by bridging soccer and a good cause.
“I wanted to be involved in this event specifically because I was on the women’s soccer team so it really hit home to work with the event given that it was so intertwined with my sport,” said Phillips. “The members of my team also took pride in the event, which was very inspiring to see.”
Women’s head soccer coach Michele Cornish also shared why this event was meaningful to her.
“One of the former coaches at Macalester, John Leaney, who is a dear friend of mine, has some very personal experience with the devastation that breast cancer causes (lost his wife to it, and his son was very young at the time),” expressed Cornish. “There are other reasons for me as well, but John and Macalester soccer go together- so it’s an appropriate venue to raise funds and to speak openly about it.”
The college, who according to Phillips has a long-standing tradition of being committed to bettering the campus and adding to the community through involvement, unified their athletes for one cause. On the 10th, Macalester’s volleyball team played against Gustavus Adolphus and on the 11th, the women’s soccer team faced St. Olaf.
While enjoying being a spectator at the volleyball game, Phillips also enjoyed helping organize volunteers for both games, leading an ad campaign, and participating as a player on the soccer field – something that was specifically special to her.
“When you’re playing, and wearing the pink jersey, you truly feel as though you are representing something that is much bigger than yourself; much bigger than the game, even,” Phillips stated. “It’s an amazing experience knowing that this one little game, out of so many soccer games being played around the country, is making an impact for a much larger goal.”
Raising $1,850 for the SideOut Foundation and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the school exceeded last years fundraising by $250. The school hopes the coming years will be able to beat that record while also expanding their events in fall sports which has happened recently with their football team hosting a “Tackle Cancer” game this October.
Coach Cornish hopes the event can inspires others in the athletic community stating, “I’m sure that others will see the positives (funds, awareness) and perhaps decide to do one in the future.”
The event that Phillips labels “a staple for Macalester’s S.A.A.C. and athletic department over the past nine years” is also an event that is changing the face of D3 women’s soccer.
“I believe this event, while still a competitive soccer game, shows how much D3 soccer, and sports in general, can be an amazing avenue for which to do good things in and for our communities.”
Up next for women’s soccer is the MIAC quarterfinals with the third seed hosting the sixth seed and the fourth seed hosting the fifth seed November 4th.