Although the Rollins volleyball team lost Saturday’s match to Eckerd College, their event to support pediatric cancer, accompanied by a growing student section, was a success.
Groups of supportive parents, students and community members sporting gold shirts, representing pediatric cancer awareness, filled the stands for the “Colorful and Courageous” event. Players warmed up in tie-dye shirts they handmade the night before and the Alfond gymnasium was a colorful sight to behold.
Just outside the doors, three large bins of crayons and coloring books were collected for children in local hospitals, and crayons and paper were set up for supporters to write messages of encouragement for local hospital patients. Online, $1,653 dollars were been raised for Go 4 the Goal, a non-profit organization that helps kids with cancer reach their goals.
After the teams warmed up, players tossed extra handmade tie-dye shirts into the stands when their names were called. All fans excitedly reached for shirts and helped to start the game with high energy; however, Rollins was ultimately swept in three games by Eckerd.
The first game resulted in a close loss for the Tars, with 25-22 as the final score. The Tars picked up momentum at the end of the game and carried it into the second one, yet Eckerd came back and beat the Tars again with a score of 25-19. The final game ended with 25-17 points to Eckerd.
This was the second loss for the Tars in a run of conference games. Their conference record is currently 1-3 and overall they are 3-8.
On trend with the impressive turnout at the fundraiser, team members have been noticing a new batch of supporters at their other games. Marlee Johnson (‘22), a new member of the team, said that much of the stands are filled with fellow first years.
“They are awesome. They have cheers and they all enjoy coming and they make it just super energetic,” Johnson said. “We want them to keep coming back…and to bring lots of people because it’s a lot of fun when you know people are behind you.”
Johnson said that some of the fans chants have included the cheer, “Anchor down, Tar up,” and that “they beat the bleachers when the other team’s serving. Just like fun stuff. They get rowdy.”
Daniel Halquist (‘22), one of the leaders of the chants, said that his reasons for leading the fan section are “One—supporting the school, two—I grew up in a high school with a culture that was very enthusiastic when it comes to sports, and I’m [going to] bring that culture here and create something that’ll last beyond the four or five years I’m here.”
Rachel Fletcher (‘19), an upperclassman on the team said, “The fan section has grown and I love it! They’re so rowdy and it makes for a more competitive and lively energy in the gym. They cheer after every point and have created chants, which is awesome.”
Head Coach, Mika Robinson, expressed thanks for the support of students and also faculty. The team members and staff “really appreciate the campus support for events and when people show interest into the great community service that a lot of our athletes do,” said Robinson.
The funds raised at the event will go towards for “Go 4 the Goal,” a national organization that raises money for pediatric cancer patients and research. The team easily surpassed their initial goal of $1,000.
Go 4 the Goal works “with a lot of sports teams around the country…they reached out to us to start with, and we had already been thinking about the ‘Colorful and Courageous’ idea,” said Head Coach Mika Robinson.
This is the first year the Tars participated in this fundraiser. Robinson has a personal connection to this event, as it was inspired by the daughter of the athletic physician at Robinson’s previous institution, Berry College in Georgia.
Sophie Pillar, a 5-year-old at the time of treatment for her rare cancer, realized after her recovery that the hospital she had spent time in was always low on crayons and coloring books. “That was something that she really enjoyed doing when she was there for treatments,” said Robinson.
Marlee Johnson (‘22) raised the most funds with a total of $733 dollars for the team, according to their Go 4 the Goal page. She shared that the event was “really personal to Mika from her last school, and I think it’s cool that we get to carry it on here.”