Margie Bowman can’t forget Sept. 22, 2006, when her regular mammogram detected every woman’s fear — breast cancer.
Two years, three days and a course of radiation treatment later, the Ironwood Ridge assistant volleyball coach was healthy and cancer-free and working the sidelines last Thursday as her Nighthawks and Sunnyside’s Blue Devils donned pink shirts for their first-annual “Dig for the Cure” fund-raising match.
On a packed and rowdy home court, the Nighthawks teamed with their 5A-II rivals to honor both Bowman and Laura Kadous, mother of head Sunnyside coach Heidi Trump, during a short mid-match ceremony.
“Having this tonight was very overwhelming for me,” a visibly touched Bowman said. “It was amazing to see all the pink here, and all the people that came out. It was very nice.”
College teams across the country have organized similar events during recent years, said Nighthawks coach Bill Lang, who figured it natural to host the evening once Bowman joined his team.
Though planning was “last minute,” Lang said the schools raised $3,000 for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation by Thursday night. Some players even rallied pledges for each dig at the event’s pink-and-white ball.
“We just presented it to the girls, they were really behind it, they thought it was a great opportunity,” Lang said. “We want our players to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to realize how fortunate they are to play volleyball.”
Though the Ironwood Ridge gymnasium’s pink décor and throngs of coral-clad fans rendered a festive atmosphere, the Nighthawks’ never promised Sunnyside’s Blue Devils a rose garden.
Sunnyside appeared disorganized for the first game and resurgent during the second, as Ironwood Ridge won 25-4 and 25-21 before a short break spotlighted the evening’s honorees.
Students from both schools took turns hitting balls over the net, an effort to win pink shirts available for a $25 donation.
When the girls retook the court, Sunnyside commenced to put up a dogfight, leading 14-9 before both teams wrestled along to a 27-25 Nighthawks win.
Ironwood Ridge senior captain Malyree Harper — who notched four of the ’Hawks 37 digs — said the night’s significance caused both squads to take pause.
“This is definitely emotional, especially since we’re the first school doing this. It’s very different and exciting,” Harper said. “There was a lot of emotion that it brought in to the game.”
Defeat aside, Sunnyside’s coach was moved by the evening’s raucous turnout. Trump’s eyes watered at the thought of her mother’s successful battle, which lasted six months after she was diagnosed in the same month as Bowman.
In 2007, more than 178,000 women learned they’d face that same fight. Over 40,000 would not survive, according to the American Cancer Society.
“To know that these teams would come out and support us, it was a great way to treat (breast cancer) awareness — cause it’s not just older people,” Trump said. “It’s people my age, it’s people their age, that are going to encounter it.”