Molly West is very proud of what has become of the Desert Vista girls volleyball program during her tenure, but tonight's "Dig Pink in Tukee" event just might be her biggest accomplishment.
Not that the success of the event falls on the coach's shoulders alone. Anyone who has been a part of this third annual event, which continues tonight at Desert Vista, knows that the entire Ahwatukee Foothills' volleyball community is involved.
But it may have never got started without West. She jumped into the Side-Out Foundation's mission - to fight breast cancer through the sport of volleyball - with full cooperation to become the most profitable Dig Pink volleyball event in the nation.
"I think our kids, parents and the community all have really wrapped their arms around it," West said.
The third installment of Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe playing each other while raising money for breast cancer should be just as successful, if not more so, as the word continues to get out. The event has contributed more than $42,000 to the cause.
"It has a lot to do with parents who put a lot of effort in," Mountain Pointe coach Fred Mann said. "In particular two or three parents just bust out, giving time and effort to the cause."
The volleyball teams sell raffle tickets at $5 a ticket or five tickets for $20, but that is not all. Many parents seek out and receive donations from businesses as well as sell merchandise like T-shirts for the event.
On the court, Mountain Pointe (11-6 heading into this week's action) and Desert Vista (15-7) are still neighboring rivals. However, the Dig Pink Trophy is given out not to the winning team of the match, but to the team that generates the most money for donation.
Mountain Pointe has won the first two Dig Pink trophies, while Desert Vista has been victorious on the court both years.
Without a doubt, the volleyball match takes a backseat to the overall purpose of the event because both teams have players who have had family members diagnosed with breast cancer. Instead of wearing their team colors, the teams and their fans wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness.
When West decided to participate it was a no-brainer as to who the opponent had to be every year.
"I had to think about whom I would want to invite to participate," West said. "Of course, the natural team would be Mountain Pointe. It just seemed so perfect for us to have this opportunity in our community."
Dig Pink is a nationwide fundraiser, with high school and college volleyball teams participating. The Mountain Pointe-Desert Vista match-up has been so successful that the founder of the Side-Out Foundation, Rick Dunetz, is expected to attend the contest for the second year in a row.
The atmosphere is something that has to be seen in person to fully grasp the power of pink.
"It's just such an exciting game because it's such a great cause," Mann said. "It's neat for us as a coaching staff and as a team, and as Mountain Pointe to be a part of something that can help out in the long run."
Daniel Kemp is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a freshman at Arizona State University.