Give it Back-Pittsburgh Camp and Summer Serve 2019


Last Summer We Serve First sent three athletes and Coach Kelsey Bonk to Anaheim for Give it Back’s camp.  This summer Give it Back brings it’s troupe of National Team members and former Olympians to Western Pennsylvania for an impressive two day camp at Moon High School August 9th and 10th.  What we hope to contribute as a foundation, and what I might be able to do to help founders Christa Harmotto-Dietzen, Courtney Thompson, and Tama Miyashiro require a little more explaination.

We Serve First is continuing it’s mission by provide financially challenged athletes an opportunity to attend this fine camp.  We have a goal of 20 young women we wish to send to Give it Back’s camp.  Early generosity has us nearing the 1/3 mark in fundraising for this endeavor.  We have started collecting names of eligible athletes from local High School and Club coaches.  When we get twenty names we will draw them from a hat and put them in order on a list.  As funding becomes available, we will inform each athlete that they have been sponsored.  If we collect donations beyond the goal of twenty we will expand the list. There is no shortage of athletes who can use our help...


You can get involved by donating at our GoFundMe page.  Every dollar raised between now and the close of registration will go towards this campaign.  


We Serve First has enjoyed being a part of Give it Back’s efforts in the past.  Along with sending MaKayla, McKenna, Cassie, and Coach Bonk last summer, we also sponsored one athlete from Washington at Give it Back’s first camp in Kent.  We are so proud to partner with them again for “Summer Serve 2019”.   



Look for the revival of my “Five Questions” segments as Give it Back rolls out the coaching roster for this camp.  I’m hoping to add to the hype by asking each coach about camp, their careers, and what they look forward to most when it comes to visiting Pittsburgh.  There is so much to be gained by learning about each of these amazing athletes, their journey, and what it takes to toe the service line with the game in the balance and a medal on the line.  I’ll be sure to share on my social media outlets as the answers come in. 


It’s going to be an active year for volleyball in Western Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh specifically.  NCAA Divison I Final Four will be at PPG Paints Arena in December.  Let’s get the party started by “serving” young athletes in our region an opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to attend Give it Back’s camp August 9th and !0th.  Thank you for your generosity and support of We Serve First!

Tim Toy

We Serve First Foundation

The Road to Anaheim-We Serve First Heads West

On Monday, May 25th, The Give it Back Foundation announced that they would be hosting a two day volleyball clinic in Anaheim, California.  Later that same day I had an revelation.  We Serve First was going to send an athlete from the Kiski Valley to learn from some of the world’s best volleyball players.

Why did I feel so strongly about this particular camp, and these particular players?  Give it Back will be staffed by some of the world’s best players in the absolute hotbed of American volleyball, Southern California!  The American Sports Center is the training site for our National Team, and these women provided so much encouragement and joy for Ellen as her battle with cancer progressed, and support for me when it reached it’s conclusion. 

This would be our Foundation’s biggest undertaking, but by Friday it had blossomed into something even more.  Now three athletes, one from each stop on Ellen’s coaching journey, and one coach, will head west for this one of a kind volleyball clinic.  So first let’s see who will be carrying the torch for their respective schools.

Plum (Ellen Coached here from 1982-1989, State Champs in 1984) 


Makayla Jackson-Sophomore-MH










Leechburg (Ellen started the volleyball program here in 1993 and coached the Blue Devils until 2007) McKenna Pierce-Sophomore-Setter











Kiski Area (Ellen returned to her Alma Mater in 2008 and coached the Cavaliers until cancer forced her to retire in 2015) 


Cassie Shoupe-Junior-Setter-Kiski Area


Joining these three players will be Plum coach and former Valley Viking standout Kelsey Bonk.  Kelsey played at Carlow and was on one of Ellen’s last club teams at Westmoreland Elite.  Kelsey will act as chaperone and also be called on as a volunteer coach at the camp, working alongside Olympians and current National Team members.  







Next, let’s take a look at “Give it Back’s” camp clinicians!  


Give it Back was founded by former National Team Members Courtney Thompson, Tama Miyashiro, and Christa Deitzen.  The camp always raises money for an area charity, and this year it will donate proceeds to the Reins Program, a therapeutic riding program in Fallbrook, CA that teaches kids and adults with disabilities how to ride horses. 

The camp will feature 15 hours of live play, classroom, and skills instruction all led by either former or current National Team members, many who have competed at the highest level on earth, the Olympics! 

Joining Courtney, Tama, and Christa will be... 

Carli Lloyd-who is the host this year

Jordan Larson                                    Foluke Akinradewo

Kelsey Robinson                                 Nicole Davis

Tori Dixon                                            Chiaka Ogbogu

Lauren Gibbemeyer                            Justine Wong-Oranges

Lauren Carlini                                      Madi Kingdon

Inky Ajanku                                         Haleigh Washington

Micha Hancock                                    Hanna Tapp

Megan Courtney                                  Kelly Hunter

Sarah Wilhite                                       Michelle Bartsch-Hackley

Annie Drews                                        


What can you do to help?  Well, it is a massive undertaking and while it is possible, this will definitely put a dent in the foundation’s funds.  We are restarting the GoFundMe campaign to defray some of the costs.  Anything you can give will help these kids get an unreal opportunity and keep the lights on for We Serve First so we can continue to Serve!  

Here is the link...

Lastly, here is a video sent to me from Clairissa Hankenson, Junior from Eastern Kentucky University, on what We Serve First has meant to her... 






I look forward to updating all of you as this process continues.  Until then, “Flip the Coin, Choose to Serve”! 

Thank you!!! 

Tim Toy

We Serve First Foundation