Olathe Dig Pink Brings Volleyball Teams Together for a Cause


Varsity Volleyball team hosts dig pink event to raise money for breast cancer research. Four out of the five Olathe Schools come to play at Dig Pink.

Meredith McCalmon, Writer

For five years, Olathe West head volleyball coach Amy Hommsommer and her team have participated in a breast cancer fundraising event called Dig Pink. 

“[It’s] basically a unified effort from all five of the Olathe schools to create an event to fundraise for breast cancer research,” Hoffsommer said. “The event is centered around us playing the volleyball match, to bring people in. It’s all five high schools, one does not play. The team that hosted the prior year does not play.”  

This year is the first year that Olathe West has hosted the event, which has proved to be a much bigger job than Coach Hoffsommer had anticipated. But with the help of parent lead Saja Gregg, the team was able to effectively pull off the event.

“[Gregg] had to secure the speakers, get the food, the place, the venue, all the decorations for the event, make sure that everybody knows where they’re supposed to be, order the t-shirt, etc.,” Hoffsommer said.

Though planning Dig Pink Olathe is undeniably a big job, it all becomes worth it as Hoffsommer and the team see the community brought together to support a worthy cause and raise donations.

“The idea is to bring in as much of the community as we can,” Hoffsommer said. “It’s October, it’s breast cancer awareness month, so this is our opportunity to not only bring awareness but also fundraise…Our goal is to raise $10,000 on the evening, if not more.”

The teams at Dig Pink raise money by selling t-shirts and concessions, as well as from sponsors. There was also a basket auction, which were filled with items donated from each team from each school; a total of around 20 baskets.

To many of the volleyball players and fans, Dig Pink simply seems like a fun way to raise donations for a good cause. But to those like Coach Hoffsommer, this event is so much more important than many realize. 

“I’m a breast cancer survivor myself, so that makes it even more close to home,” Hoffsommer said. “Unless [you’ve] had someone close to them go through it, I think when you’re young you don’t understand the magnitude of that sort of illness.” 

With this group of volleyball players especially, Coach Hoffsommer feels that the girls on the team may have a hard time realizing the immensity of Dig Pink and what it stands for, particularly because not all of them have seen the effects of breast cancer firsthand. 

“When I was diagnosed, that was my first year at Olathe West,” Hoffsommer said. “So all my players had known what I had gone through, and had seen it and been around it. This is my first group that hasn’t, so they’re a little dissociated from that.”

After Dig Pink each year, at the end of the volleyball season, the team has a banquet where breast cancer survivors speak on their experiences. 

“It’s really at the banquet where it truly hits home for them, because it’s kind of fun up until then,” Hoffsommer said. “When they hear the testimony of the women who will be speaking, I think that’s when it tends to hit home a little bit more.”

These banquets are especially important to Coach Hoffsommer, as she recounts being at one while anticipating test results. 

“I had gotten my biopsy,” Hoffsommer said. “I was listening to the speakers and stuff, and it was just really hitting home heavy on me. It absolutely changed my view. When you’re young, I think sometimes we think of things not happening to us until a certain age, but this happened for real. And I think it’d be the same if I knew someone, as well, that had gone through it.”

To Coach Hoffsommer — more important than any event, game or banquet — is the sense of community among people when it comes to sports.

“The reason these events are so powerful is because you know you’re not alone,” Hoffsommer said. “I hope people don’t feel alone, and they know that people are out there working hard for them, and there’s a lot of great people in the world that can help you.”