If you think social media is a gimmick for kids to waste time, here is my (heavily biased) argument otherwise. My daughter wrote the following blog for USA Volleyball yesterday. This is Twitter at its best. And the match starts in 15 minutes…GO USA/Team Toy!
Aug. 10: Cassidy Lichtman (@CassidyLichtman), U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team outside hitter, on behalf of entire team
There are so many reasons why I love volleyball, but one of my favorites, hands down, has always been the community that surrounds this game. The people involved in our sport are some of the best I have ever met and I’m endlessly grateful for that. I want to tell you about one of those people today—about a woman who has been a constant source of light and inspiration for a school and community that has been hit hard in the past few years.
Ellen Toy is the head volleyball coach at Kiski Area High School in Pennsylvania. And she has cancer. Diagnosed in 2009 with stomach cancer, Coach Toy’s fight had begun. But she wasn’t alone. In fact, she wasn’t even the only coach on her staff that had experience fighting cancer. Kiski’s assistant coach, Jaime Moran had already been diagnosed with, and beaten, leukemia twice when Coach Toy was diagnosed. Just as Coach Toy began to get better, Moran’s leukemia came back for round three. She passed away in August of last year and it was up to Coach Toy to rally her team in the wake of their loss.
Then came blow number two. The Kiski team lost one of its members, Jenna Prusia, in an accident last Christmas. Another life was taken too soon and, again, Coach Toy was left to guide her girls through. By all accounts, the team has shown remarkable maturity and grace in dealing with all of these events. One has to assume that much of that is a reflection on their leader.
Then, during a trip to the hospital, what the Toys thought was a routine test turned into blow number three. Coach Toy’s cancer was back. Needless to say though, she’s ready to fight it again. Unfortunately, this fight is going to keep her from the court for the upcoming season. It will be the first time in almost 30 years that she’s not out there with her team.
We know how much Coach Toy wishes she could be with her team when they start their season on Monday and how much the team would love for her to be there. But since that’s not possible, we’re hoping that she’ll help coach our team this Sunday instead. We would like to invite Coach Toy to be an honorary coach for the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team when we play Serbia tomorrow night. We’re currently playing in Belgrade, Serbia, for the FIVB World Grand Prix, a tournament in which we take on the best in the world. Our goal is to be ready to go to battle every night and we think there’s nobody better to teach us how. Coach Toy has battled the toughest opponent that life has to offer and done it with poise, grace and the competitive spirit that has also made her a beloved coach. We could ask for nothing more than to come out of every match feeling like we’ve reflected those attributes.
So here’s how it’s going to work. Coach Toy will be watching the live stream of the match and tweeting @USA_Volleyball from her twitter account, @team4toy. She will be sending in any comments she has on the match and, of course, providing some of her coaching wisdom to help us take down the Serbians. She might also offer some observations about our play that can help younger players and fans learn more about the game as they watch. First serve is Sunday at 2:15 p.m. Eastern Time. Pull up that live stream and your Twitter feed to watch us play and learn more about the game we love and one of the incredible members of our community.
For more information on Coach Toy’s story and Jam the Gym, their annual match raising money for the Jaime Moran Scholarship Fund, go towww.jamthegym.com.