COLUMBIA — In some ways Silverthorne Arena resembles the White House. The exterior wall is white, and for the most part, the interior walls are, too.
But pink invaded the building Tuesday. The Stephens volleyball program put on two special events. played its senior night game and also hosted a “Pack The House Pink” night in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The big white wall opposite the arena’s maroon bleachers suddenly had patches of bright yellow signs supporting the Stars and their lone senior, Moniece Brown. On the other side, several fans wore pink in support of breast cancer awareness. Every fan wearing pink received free cotton candy, but more importantly, every fan that paid for a ticket contributed directly to a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness.
Fans walking into Silverthorne didn’t just hear the usual warm-up music booming through the speakers. “Eye Of The Tiger” had to compete for eardrums with the constant buzz from a large cotton-candy machine near the gym’s entrance. Heads turned curiously when the machine was turned on. A cloud of pink balloons hung next to the cotton candy machine, as student government members sold pink T-shirts and balloons for the fundraiser. The fans even received pink game programs.
According to Amanda Roberts, the student services coordinator at Stephens, “Pack The House Pink” was a joint effort between three Stephens College organizations: the volleyball team, The Leadership and Programming Office and the student government.
“They (The Leadership and Programming Office) do all of our programming on campus,” Roberts said. “All of it was Stephens College.”
The director of The Leadership and Programming Office, Rebecca Stith, said the campus had been having events for Breast Cancer Awareness Month before the game.
“Wearing pink is something that we encourage at different events throughout the month,” Stith said. “We have an area in our student commons called ‘The Pit.’ So we had a ‘Pink In The Pit’ where (students) could decorate their own ribbon-shaped cookies with pink icing. We’re also doing ‘Bingo For Breast Cancer.’”
The volleyball team played a major role in the preparations, too.
“They got really excited about it, and I was really proud of them,” Stith said. “We were just going to do the ‘Wear Pink and Get Free Cotton Candy,’ but they took it to a whole other level. They were the ones that got out to the community. They contacted some radio stations, and they took the initiative to get that done.”
Stephens volleyball coach Michelle Gregory’s hectic Tuesday exemplified the team’s dedication to the event. Gregory talked about how her husband came home from work that day and said how busy he had been. Gregory laughed and lovingly mocked her husband’s schedule, which didn’t quite stand up to her own. She pulls a Clark Kent every day by being a high school teacher in the morning and Stephens volleyball coach at night. Gregory, wearing a pink turtleneck sweater, not only coached her team, but was also a master of ceremony for the event.
“I haven’t stopped since seven this morning,” Gregory said.
The team wore pink T-shirts during warm-ups and resembled a pink wave, splitting into two groups and taking alternating laps up and down one-half of the court. Some of the players even wore pink wristbands and ribbons to go with their black home uniforms.
Between the second and third set, the team held a serving competition. Competitors had to buy a raffle ticket to participate, and the proceeds went to the fundraiser, too.
The volleyball team’s efforts paid off. Silverthorne Arena was close to its capacity of 400, and a majority of the crowd wore pink in several ways. Spectators wore pink button-down shirts, T-shirts, hoodies and baseball caps. Fans also wore the color in different shades. Some scorched retinas with their hot pink, while others sported a more conservative, faded pink. Some had pink trim on gray sweatshirts, and one spirited fan even wore a pink, Bob Marley-esque dreadlocked wig.