It’s often said a sports team isn’t just a team—it’s a family. That’s certainly true of the Mound Westonka High School varsity girls’ volleyball team. Aside from perfecting spike hits and bump passes, the volleyball team has accomplished quite a lot outside the athletic sphere.
Inspired by a high school staff member’s battle with breast cancer, the team decided to take action. “Their lives had been touched by those fighting breast cancer,” says Michelle Schaible, the team’s coach (and mom of player Jennifer Schaible). “They were inspired.”
The team, comprised of sophomores and juniors and one freshman, decided to partner with Hope Chest, a nonprofit retail organization supporting those fighting breast cancer. Hope Chest provides grants and financial assistance to families of cancer fighters, helping with mortgages, car payments, child care costs and more. Since 2001, the nonprofit has given more than 4,000 financial grants. The Hope Chest retail stores sell donated items, such as furniture and clothing, and 85 percent of the proceeds go to supporting community members with breast cancer. The volleyball players volunteered at the original Orono location this past October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month). In just three hours, 13 players unpacked more than 4,000 items and set them up ready to be sold. “It was amazing,” Shaible says.
Despite the fact that volleyball season is now over for the year, the girls plan on continuing to support breast cancer awareness and funding. Their outreach has been contagious, too: The Westonka girls’ varsity basketball team is planning on following in their footsteps and volunteering at Hope Chest.