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Playing for a purpose: the way one family used volleyball to raise money for stage IV breast cancer patients

Each game one team won the more money they raised to donate to the Sideout Foundation, raising money for cancer research and aiding for stage IV cancer victims.

MEMPHIS, Tenn — Some people join rec leagues to get better at the sports they play or just to have something to do, but the Pfeil family decided to play for a bigger purpose.

Until this year, Heather and Brad Pfeil only came to their daughter’s volleyball games as spectators.

“We do a lot of sideline coaching,” Heather said.

However, the Collierville Volleyball League was short on coaches heading into the season, their daughter's team being one without a coach. 

With no one else volunteering to coach Heather, Brad, and their oldest daughter, Olivia, took over.

“I was like oh my gosh what am I doing? Third and fourth grade is really that starter year for these girls so you don’t want to lead them the wrong way,” said Heather. 

The league leaders assigned Heather’s team pink jerseys.

“Instead of allowing our girls to choose a name, pink unicorn or fluffy cotton candy, we decided,” Heather added.

They named the team "Dig Pink", and as first-time coaches, set the tone for the rest of the season.

Through research, Heather correlated the team's name with breast cancer awareness. And later finding out the team could make personal donations to the Sideout Foundation.

From then on, they gave one dollar for every set and 10 for every win, motivating the team to play hard every game.

“The first thing they wanted to do was touch the money and put it in the bucket,” said Heather.

With parents on board after an undefeated season, they made a deal with the girls. If the team won the championship, in addition to what they had already raised they would give at least 100 dollars more.

“They put my money where my mouth was,” said Heather.

As champions, the team raised more than 500 dollars to help people specifically with stage four breast cancer live a little longer.

After making such an impact, Heather says her first year coaching is not her last.

“Depending on the jersey color, honestly, I think I’ll continue finding cancer or an organization that matches that particular jersey color and donating to them as well,” Heather said.