For an event to have sustainability it helps to have a wow moment.
The annual Dig Pink in Tukee event staged by the Desert Vista and Mountain Pointe girls volleyball programs has had many as it enters its fourth year, but none were as important as the first couple.
"The first one for me came when the idea was initially brought up and I realized how much we could do with the great community we have," Desert Vista volleyball coach Molly West said. "The second one, which remains so vivid in my mind today, was the gym during that first match when the whole crowd was pink and everyone was into it."
While the initial wow factor of seeing the entire gym "pinked out" for breast cancer awareness may have worn off, the enthusiasm has not waned in the least as the Pride get set to host the Thunder on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. or so.
The cross-town rivalry has embraced the nationwide event, including high school and college teams, and has continually led the way by raising the most money.
"I thought the parents created an easy foundation of what to do each year," West said. "The competition between the two schools have kept it going. We are sharing this with Mountain Pointe and each year we try new things."
The teams have been fundraising for six weeks through the website digpinkintukee.com, and by selling Tic Tac Pro cards. Additional money can be contributed during Thursday's event, which gets under way at 4 p.m. with the freshmen game, with the purchase of T-shirts, pom poms and wristbands.
Over the first three years, the Dig Pink in Tukee event has raised more than $31,000 for the Side-Out Foundation's Dig Pink National Breast Cancer Awareness Rally for the highest total in the nation.
The level of participation may have surprised some at the start, but in reality, and sadly, just about everyone knows someone who has been affected by breast cancer.
"We always ask for those who have been affected to stand up and by the end just about everyone is standing," said West, whose mother-in-law and best friend were diagnosed. "It's a sad disease and affects us all."
Mountain Pointe athletic director Ian Moses said the event is a perfect combination of competitiveness and community support.
"This is exactly what high school competitions should be," he said. "It is the coming together of the community in recognition of an important cause rather than just the teams on the court. The amount of people involved is impressive.
"There is participation from the players, their classmates, the parents and their family and friends. This is high school athletics at its best."
This year's match also brings some intrigue on the court as Desert Vista might need a win over Mountain Pointe in order to get into the Division I state tournament.
The Pride is assured a spot in the postseason with a 15-2 mark in the power rankings with only the match against Thunder left on the schedule, while Desert Vista, which is 8-7 in power ranking matches, might have to sweep Dobson on Wednesday and the Pride on Thursday to get in after a promising preseason.
Mountain Pointe swept the Thunder early in the season so it won't be an easy task on the road for Desert Vista.
"We are up and down," West said. "We have some young kids in some key areas. There are times we are playing well and times where we let up. We are getting better and trying to expand our volleyball IQ. I expect a lot from them, but I am happy with their progress."
Thunder junior middle blocker Brooke Honeycutt said the Dig Pink event will be the perfect spot to play their best match of the season.
"It's a big crowd and it can be overwhelming," she said. "It will be really intense and (a win can) help get us a better spot in the playoffs. We have improved a lot and we want to be at our best for that match."
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