Pink Lemonade. Pink Donuts. Pink T-shirts. Pink jerseys. This was all for PLNU’s Dig Pink Night last Thursday. Dig Pink Night is an annual event hosted by the women’s volleyball team to honor those who are affected and battling breast cancer, as well as raise money for breast cancer research. Coming into the game, the team had a 6-9 overall record and a 3-4 record in the PacWest conference. The women’s volleyball team played Concordia University Irvine for Dig Pink Night. Coming into the match, the Eagles had a 5-8 overall record and a 1-5 record in the PacWest Conference.
Before the start of the first set, PLNU honored everyone in attendance who had and is currently battling breast cancer, including Laura Coleman, the mother of PLNU redshirt freshman and outside hitter, Emily Coleman. Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer in September of 2015 and was officially cancer-free in 2016.
Emily’s parents recently moved to North Carolina and haven’t been able to attend as many games as they use to, so being able to attend Dig Pink Night not only meant a lot to Laura but to Emily as well. “Last year was both of our first times participating in a Dig Pink Night since her diagnosis, and it was incredibly emotional,” said Emily. “This year, it was more of a happy experience for both of us being able to reflect on how far she has come in the last year.”
Visiting team Concordia wore matching pink apparel such as socks, hair ties and wristbands to honor all the breast cancer survivors in attendance, catching the eye of several PLNU students including senior PLNU student, Felipe Diaz. Diaz appreciated the gesture saying “It was nice to see the opposing team wearing pink accessories to go along with the theme of the night #lovethyneighborevenConcordia.”
Point Loma started the game on fire, feeding off of the crowd’s energy and excitement. After being down 11-5 early in the first set, the Sea Lions rallied with a seven-point run to take the lead and win the first set 25-20.
The gym was electric and students could feel the excitement and emotion in the air. “The atmosphere in the gym was what you want to experience as an athlete as well as a fan. It was great to support such an important cause,” said Diaz.
After struggling in the first set, Concordia picked up their play and were able to find their rhythm offensively. They won the second set 25-20 and never looked back. Despite this, PLNU freshmen and middle blocker Jaime Cymbaluk had one of her best sets of the season. She had a career high of 15 kills. Her play earned the praise of Point Loma head coach Jonathan Scott, “She had a great matchup; she was able to exploit that and find success.”
Although Point Loma lost the second set to Concordia, the night was about so much more than winning or losing. Emily knew how special it was to have her mother in attendance and being able to have her there was her favorite part of Dig Pink Night. “Just getting to spend time together to celebrate her strength as well as how far we have both come and grown with one another through this whole experience was everything,” said Emily.
After winning the second set, Concordia had all the momentum and carried it to a victory. The Eagles won the third set 25-23 and the fourth set 25-17. While Point Loma did not earn the victory, the night was much bigger than its outcome.
Emily’s mother, Laura, loves what the Dig Pink Night does for breast cancer survivors and is extremely grateful for the awareness it brings. She hopes to help further bring this type of awareness and support to every other form of cancer. Laura is currently working on her certification for cancer-based fitness instructing. Her goal is to help not only those battling with breast cancer but everyone affected with the disease. In particular, she’s passionate about childhood cancer, as only about 4% of all money raised towards cancer awareness goes into childhood cancer.
Win or lose, Dig Pink Night was a success by every definition of the word.
Emily cannot express how much it means to have her teammates and the PLNU community support her mother and other breast cancer survivors. “My teammates are absolutely incredible! They honestly do more than they know for me and are there for me in every aspect in life. It was so great to be able to share this with them. It was amazing to have so many people from the PLNU community come out and support our match as well as all of the cancer survivors that were honored that night.”
The women’s volleyball team’s next game is at home on Thursday Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. versus Biola.