Awesome MS Volleyball Event
“AWESOME” Opportunity For Middle School Girls Volleyball
Team and Practice Players Compete in Charity Game for the Side-Out Foundation
When school athletic teams have roster limitations, tryouts determine who will make the team. Yet, sometimes those who did not make the cut possess the heart and the potential for improvement if they had an opportunity to practice.
Until recently, this described the situation in Sayville Middle School during the early winter season. There was only one Girls team— Volleyball— and it was limited to twenty-four uniformed players (a huge number for one volleyball team). Yet, each year Volleyball Coach Jim McLoughlin saw the need to expand the possibilities for those greater numbers, ranging from fifty to one-hundred girls, trying out with hopes of making the roster. After the cuts were made, McLoughlin would extend an invitation to any player that didn't make the team to come down and practice with the team every day as a “practice player.”
The students accepted the opportunity with enthusiasm, even though they knew they would not receive uniforms or play in scheduled season games.
This year, things changed!
With the launching of the first Purple VS Gold Charity Volleyball Game (recently held in January), all the girls were given the opportunity to participate in one important game. “Coach McLoughlin created this event,” High School Girls Volleyball Coach Deb Urso explained, “not only to raise money for helping fight cancer, but also to allow all the girls on the team, including practice players, the chance to play the sport they love.”
To accomplish this, McLoughlin contacted the Side-Out Foundation that is renowned for The Dig Pink® Rally events usually held in October. These nationwide events bring together volleyball players to raise funds for breast cancer research, demonstrate the power of teamwork, and show support for people with the disease.
Sayville’s Middle School Volleyball game for charity was indeed a wonderful solution and proved to be energizing on so many levels, not only for the girls who participated in the cancer fundraiser, but also for the spirit of community it generated. “This year we have a little over thirty girls practicing every day,” McLoughlin said. “It was great to see some of them finally get the opportunity to get on the court and play in a game.”
Urso enthusiastically described the evening event. “It was awesome! The bleachers were filled with students and members of our community all dressed in either purple or gold in support of their favorite team. Each team’s roster was filled with members of the 2015/16 Middle School Volleyball team. It was Sayville vs Sayville, A-team vs B-team.”
“It really was a great event!” Mcloughlin agreed. “The kids had fun and it was well attended. We had sixteen alumni volleyball players, some still in college and some who have graduated from college, along withplayers from our current Varsity and Junior Varsity teams, come to the game and help referee, coach, and even play with the girls! It was so much fun. Go Pro cameras were set up to record the event and Mr. Meier was our official scorekeeper. The gym was decorated with the colors of each team: purple on one side and gold on the other.”“I have to tell you it was a great event for the entire team,” Marisa Milo recounted from a parent’s perspective. “The girls really embraced the fundraiser: making team t-shirts, decorating the gymnasium, and selling tickets in their spare time during the week. By creating this event, Coach McLoughlin and Coach Urso gave the team the opportunity to take a moment during an intensive, competitive season to do something for others; and the girls didn't hesitate to give 100% to make it a success. The entire tone of the event, from the moment the girls were told about it, up until the actual game, was the epitome of friendly competition for a good cause thanks to the coaches. As a parent, it was really nice to watch my daughter and her teammates have so much fun and work equally as hard for this 'exhibition' game, as they do their regular games.”
“I was very proud to be part of this program,” Urso added. “It truly felt like a community effort; people came together through their love for volleyball to help local families and the Side-Out Foundation fight cancer. This event raised more than $650. Special thanks to Middle School Principal Murray and Assistant Principal Decker for allowing us to hold this event,”
Urso also gave a special shout out to Sayville’s Super Bowls for donating $50 in gift certificates to the raffle. “The minute I walked into Super Bowls on Main Street in Sayville, Mr. Kalomiris expressed his desire to help, saying, ‘I will donate the gift certificates you need.’ Here is another wonderful community member giving back to such a fun community event!”
A final, special touch to the already touching evening: Coach Jim McLoughlin, who is also the technology teacher at the Middle School, made the trophy handed out to the winning team—the Purple Team this year.
photos courtesy of Marisa Milo