October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so pink will be a prime color on local athletic fields as teams work to raise awareness and funds to fight the disease.
But on the volleyball court in Everett, the annual pink game has taken on added significance this year, as the special night will be another opportunity to honor a very special teacher, Linda Dodson.
"Lindy" passed away in August at the age of 51, following a hard-fought battle against breast cancer, just days before she was to begin her 30th year of teaching math at Everett Area High School.
Members of the Everett volleyball team raise an “L” to honor their late teacher.
Appropriately, the Lady Warriors, coached by Susan Connor, has dedicated their season to Dodson, who was perhaps herself the truest of "Lady Warriors." Her courageous effort to defeat cancer inspires her students, athletes, faculty and friends in the classroom and now on the court.
"Enthusiasm," said Coach Connor, "that's the one word I'd use to describe Lindy. She was always smiling."
Connor remembers Lindy's interest in her students going far beyond their knowledge of numbers. She would attend sporting events and other school functions, showing concern for the teenagers as individuals outside of the classroom.
"Whether she was feeling good or not, she loved teaching," Connor said, "she loved the kids, loved life."
It is that spirit that encourages the Lady Warriors to "Live Life Like Lindy." The eight varsity players routinely raise their huddled hands making "L" signs in her memory; the phrase will also be featured on the official t-shirts associated with their pink game. The Everett volleyball team is off to an impressive 10-1 start, their fighting spirit a tribute to the memory of their teacher.
"We try to stay upbeat and focused," Connor said. "When things get bad, we are reminded that it's never really that bad. I can hear Lindy in my mind saying 'suck it up.' She fought through to the end."
And so the Lady Warriors continue their own fight through their regular season schedule with an eye on a conference crown and district playoffs. But on Oct. 17, they'll dress in pink and share their inner inspiration with the community, donating the proceeds from shirt sales, concessions and raffles to local cancer patients and the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. The pink night volleyball game has raised around $1,000 in each the last few years, and donations are expected to increase in 2013. The team then plans to join in the Bedford Making Strides Walk on Oct. 19.
Living "Like Lindy," the volleyball team takes a never-give-up attitude into each competition, and now also into their fundraising efforts, reminded every day of how truly precious life is.
"Lindy always felt blessed," said Connor, "and we were blessed to have her."
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at email@example.com. Her column appears on Tuesdays.