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)
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
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”!
We Serve First Foundation