Oct. 16, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
Friday night is a significant match for Georgia Tech Volleyball.
It’s arguably the most important match of the year even though there is more than a month’s worth of matches remaining.
Yet, while the Jackets’ (9-10, 2-4) priority according to the schedule is beating Pittsburgh (14-2, 3-1), the Panthers aren’t the only opponent –and not even the toughest — they will be gunning for when they take the floor of O’Keefe Gym in the annual Dig Pink! Match.
That bigger opponent is breast cancer.
“Breast Cancer awareness is really important,” said senior outside hitter Courtney Felinski. “As athletes here on campus you have a really great platform to bring awareness to this. I think it’s really cool that we can get a chance to do that because we might be able to reach some people that otherwise wouldn’t have heard about the cause. So it’s a really great opportunity for us as athletes at Georgia Tech.”
Spreading awareness about how devastating and far-reaching breast cancer is cannot be understated. According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, approximately one in eight women in the United States (around 12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. In 2014, about 40,000 women in the U.S. alone, were expected to die from breast cancer, while an estimated 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer and another 62,570 non-invasive cases were expected to be diagnosed.
Answering the call to raise awareness fuels Jackets Volleyball on Dig Pink! Night. Felinski, who will play in her fourth, has a little extra motivation this year, as cancer hit her family, fortunately, with a positive outcome.
“I haven’t had anyone in my family per se affected by breast cancer but my grandmother was declared in remission from ovarian cancer this past spring,” she said. “Dealing with that was kind of eye-opening just because of the process of how serious a disease cancer is. It was already an issue very important to me but having been personally affected by a form of cancer, it’s definitely an issue that’s a little more near and dear to my heart and the hearts of my family.”
Yellow Jacket fans will have an opportunity to do their part to raise money by bidding on the special pink jerseys the Jackets wear Friday night via RamblinWreck.com (the bidding actually begins Friday at noon and continues through noon on Oct. 31). All bids start at $50 and increase in $5 increments. All proceeds benefit Susan G. Komen.
“It’s always so exciting to see so many people come out and bid on your jersey,” said Felinski. “It’s the coolest thing ever. The fact that we can contribute to such a great cause is a really special thing.”
The “coolest thing ever” gets even cooler this year, as the winning bidder has the option of getting the jersey signed by the entire team.
Regardless of whether your bid earns a jersey, every bid is a winner, as it contributes to help fund research.
“It’s something that, while progress is slow, any amount of help is valuable,” Felinski said. “So whether we find the way to a cure now or in 10 or 20 years, anything that we’re doing now to help is really, really important.”
Of course, there is a volleyball match to be played and the Jackets need a win to get back into contention in the ACC. Taking down the Panthers would be a major positive, especially with a match at Miami coming up on Sunday.
“It will be huge because [the Panthers are] doing well right now,” said Felinski. “We were looking at the ACC stats, the different categories yesterday and they’re up there in a lot of them. So I think it would be a really good win for us.”
The Jackets have won five of their last six home matches but will have their work cut out for them as the Panthers have won 10 of 11, all by 3-1 or 3-0 scores and their only loss was a 3-2 defeat to No. 12 North Carolina. A caveat to that is that all but one of those matches — a 3-1 win at Syracuse on Sunday — was played on their home floor.
Felinski expects O’Keefe to be rockin’ Friday night and can’t wait to get there.
“Dig Pink! is always a fun match for us,” she said. “We always get a great crowd and it’s for a wonderful cause. So it’s just fun to see people come out and support us and support such a great cause.”
For more information on the Susan G. Komen Foundation of Greater Atlanta, visit http://komenatlanta.org.