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Big Pink Volleyball tournament raises $3,145 for cancer research

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The Werblin Recreation Center on Busch campus was pink from head to toe on last night for the sixth annual “Big Pink Volleyball Tournament.”

More than 450 students split into 50 different teams to play volleyball and support the fight against breast cancer, said Karen Lakomy, coordinator of special programs at Residence Life.

The tournament was organized by Rutgers Residence Life with help from Rutgers Recreation in order to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the world’s largest breast cancer foundation.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation has funded more than $800 million for research and more than $1.7 billion for screening, education, treatment and psychosocial support. It has served millions in more than 30 countries worldwide since 1982, according to its website. 

Rutgers Big Pink Volleyball tournament raised $3,145 between registration fees and donations to contribute to these numbers.

Organizers set up tables with information about breast cancer. Other tables sold food, bracelets and T-shirts, with proceeds donated to the foundation. 

Students donned pink bandanas, homemade T-shirts with breast cancer slogans and apparel promoting their residence halls.

The first two hours of the tournament began with 10-minute games between College Avenue and Cook-Douglass teams. Busch and Livingston residence halls faced off at 1:00 pm. 

In finals, six teams played each other in a best two-out-of-three format with 15-minute games. After the first round of finals, the three winning teams competed in a consolation match and championship match. 

Trevor Nakata, team member of the “Team Mattia” from Mattia Hall on Busch campus, said his team lost by one point with a score of 6-5.

“It’s for a good cause, so it really doesn’t matter if you lose,” said Nakata, a School of Engineering first-year student. “It was still a fun experience.”

The Scarlet Knight arrived on scene to bring energy to the spectators and motivate the players, Lakomy said. 

Members of team “Forest Bump” were excited to not only spend their Sunday raising money for breast cancer research, but to dominate the competition as well, said team captain Alisha Fuino.

“We are here to kick butt and also kick cancer’s butt,” said Fuino, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

Off the court, students could purchase pink T-shirts and write messages on pink ribbons to hang on the walls. The organizers provided popcorn, cotton candy and board games to students who were waiting to compete.

“This event combines the best of both worlds,” Lakomy said. “It’s a fun time for the students, and they can give back at the same time.”

Lakomy said the tournament is “bursting at the seams,” and student interest continued even after registration closed. In coming years, the event may be extended across the entire weekend due to the successful turnout. 

The tournament has also evolved in that Rutgers Residence Life now recruits student volunteers to work as referees, scorekeepers and timekeepers. Throughout the years, the event has grown with the help of social media, Lakomy said. 

“The marketing of the event has helped the tournament evolve,” she said. “We started posting about it more on social media and making videos, which has generated more participation from students.”

At 5:30 p.m., a volunteer from the Susan G. Komen Foundation was presented with the $3,145 check and gave a speech to players and onlookers.

The final match was between Nicholas Hall and Quad Two, with Quad Two scoring the win. 

The winning team was presented with a golden trophy ornamented with eagles on each corner and pink poles supporting a board with the names of the past winners. Quad Two joined the ranks of past winners from the Busch, Engineering, Science and Technology Hall, Barr Hall, Mattia Hall and the Cook Apartments.

“We could never do this event without the students,” Lakomy said. “The students participate and volunteer to make the entire event happen.”

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