Western Courier

Big Pink Volleyball

Erin Rossetto

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Western Illinois University’s annual Big Pink Volleyball tournament to fight breast cancer begins on Monday Oct. 26 at the Donald S. Spencer Student Recreation Center.

The Big Pink Volleyball tournament started on campus in 2002 and is co-sponsored by Thompson Hall and Campus Recreation. Associate Director of Campus Recreation Judy Yeast has been a part of the event since day one.

“We attended a state workshop and they had this big ball and we decided that might be fun to do something in the aquatic center with it,” Yeast said. “And after it came we thought lets try and play volleyball with it, what should we call it, Big Pink Volleyball it was.”

The program has taken a lot of work between decorating the rec center offices and making sure all the funds raised for the program are accounted for. However, Yeast said that the most difficult job is organizing the nearly 200 teams into 4-day single elimination tournaments.

“It comes down to getting the right people in the right places for an event like this,” Yeast said.

From its inception 13 years ago, she said that the presence that Big Pink Volleyball has on campus is greater than she could have ever expected.

“This is something we never could have really envisioned at our first Big Pink Volleyball event in 2002,” she said.

When this event was originally started there were six participating teams and the committee made more than $300 for charity. This year Yeast said that she is hopeful to have even more teams then last years 171.

“Last year we had 171 teams so this year it would be great to say that we are going to have 175, that’s probably a realistic goal for us,” she said. “And all of the proceeds from the tournament go to the Susan G. Coleman, and the McDonough District Hospital mammogram and other cancer screenings.”

Closely resembling traditional six-on-six volleyball, there are only a few minor rule changes in Big
Pink Volleyball.

“Very close to volleyball with a bigger ball, and the serve is different,” Yeast said. “Two people straddle the 10-foot line and hold the ball, and a person from the back row serves the ball.”

Although there haven’t been huge changes made to this game throughout its history at Western, one major alteration that has continuously been asked for will be made to this year’s tournament.

“The biggest change is that men could not always jump,” Yeast said. “This was a tough rule to enforce and the men complained about it year after year so we changed that one rule from when we started years ago.”

After the first year was so successful they went on the plan another event later that year, and now Big Pink Volleyball is played every year during breast cancer awareness month. 

Yeast explained how inspirational it is to see the reactions of all the students that put so much time and effort into this event for such an amazing cause throughout the years.

“Truly the most inspirational thing has been watching people from our committee leave and graduate from Western Illinois University and they go on to these schools and they have started Big Pink Volleyball at the other schools,” Yeast said. “And some students who have been on the committee have done national conventions about Big Pink Volleyball and people will come back and ask about if they have the rules and how do we organize something like this.”

Registration is open until Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 4:30 p.m. Six to 10 people are allowed on a team and the entry form is online. Students can bring a paper copy of the application and entry fee to the campus
recreation center.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Big Pink Volleyball