Side-Out stands up in Pink October Women’s volleyball raises breast cancer awareness

By Davis Jones


The USD women’s volleyball Dig Pink match on Oct. 10 against the University of San Francisco Dons continues a series of Torero sporting events dedicated to raising breast cancer awareness throughout the month of October.

The men’s soccer team gave away pink drawstring bags during its Torero Program Board tailgate on Oct. 4 against the Santa Clara University Broncos, and the women’s soccer match against the Loyola Marymount University Lions on Oct. 17 includes pink tote bag giveaways, poster-making and an encouragement for all fans to wear pink.

The volleyball team is raising awareness this week with the help of an additional group: the Side-Out Foundation, a nationwide organization dedicated to improving the lives of breast cancer patients and their families through the playing of the sport.

Created in 2004, Side-Out provides financial support for volleyball matches and tournaments at the youth, middle school, high school and collegiate levels. It then donates the funds to medical facilities across the country, where they turn that money into various forms of cancer research and patient support and services. Side-Out also provides valuable educational resources to its partnering schools like USD.

“Basically, the Side-Out Foundation’s goal is to make a difference in the lives of patients and families through research,” Side-Out Special Projects Coordinator Julie Matthews said. “We specifically look toward metastatic research, which is both the most advanced form of cancer and the least funded.”

Matthews referenced a study conducted through the Side-Out protocol, a pilot study financed by teams participating in the foundation, that only about five percent of all cancer research goes toward metastatic cancer. This severe form occurs when cancerous cells travel throughout the body by way of the bloodstream or the lymph system.

For a breast cancer patient, the cells will spread away from the breast to organs such as the liver. What results is considered advanced-stage cancer; the highest Class-IV stage leads to just a 15 percent five-year survival rate for patients, according to statistics from the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

With over 12,500,000 living people estimated to have had a cancer diagnosis in the United States as of 2009, chances are good that USD students know at least one friend or family member affected by the disease. A social awareness of how to specifically fight it, however, is often unknown.

Many limit themselves to simple options of donating money to a large medical organization. The women’s volleyball team unites with Side-Out on Oct. 10 to increase that sphere of social awareness among USD fans, faculty and families.

The game will feature multiple attractions for fans like removable tattoos, halftime videos and prize giveaways, all supplied by Side-Out. A silent auction with signed game balls and jerseys from players will send its proceeds to further fund cancer research, and a poster station will give spectators the chance to write their own encouraging messages for cancer victims during the match.

For those particularly interested in the battle against cancer, Matthews said that the outreach is not strictly limited to the team’s match against the Dons.

“The Side-Out Ambassador programs offer scholarships and community service awards,” Matthews said. “People can volunteer and help out at events like these. If they have any experience with breast cancer, they can make a speech to their campus community before the game. There are a lot of great opportunities to get involved for those who want to further their understanding about cancer research.”

The match is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. The Toreros are currently  No. 12 in the country, marking the sixth consecutive week that USD has appeared in the top 25.