ROXBURY, NJ – Playing Tuesday at its annual “Kill Cancer Night" in honor of a beloved former coach, the Roxbury High School volleyball team put icing on the cake by chalking up a win against its rivals from Randolph.
The 2-0 victory gives the Gaels a 12-4 record and came after a tough loss to Bridgewater-Raritan on Oct. 12.
For the event, there was pink everywhere in the Roxbury High School gymnasium, including on the players. While admission was free, donations were collected for the American Cancer Society and for the Amanda Nagy Scholarship Fund. Nagy was a Roxbury volleyball coach who died in August, 2011, at 32 years old, after a battle with cancer.
Before she died, Nagy requested that a scholarship fund be created in her name.
“I got to coach with her for two years, my first 2 years,” said former Roxbury volleyball coach Sebastian DiPietro, now coaching for Randolph. “When I was a coach here at Roxbury she set the bar for what Roxbury volleyball was all about."
DiPietro said Nagy "really set the bar high and she actually used to run a pink night here” to raise awareness about cancer. “Being that she passed from it, and she used to run it, she set the tone for what this is all about," he said. "She instilled good values into the program. She taught everybody what it means to be a good volleyball player. Not just an athlete; an all-around good person."
The coach noted Roxbury participates in a similar “cancer night” at Randolph. Despite the rivalry, both sides work together on a cause more important than winning matches, he said.
"I just like that the girls finally get to play for something bigger than their team,” said DiPietro. “We always teach them to be something bigger than themselves … Everybody knows somebody that's affected by cancer, so they finally get to go beyond team and that's incredible when that is achieved."
The atmosphere contained a sense of togetherness despite the traditional rivalry between Roxbury and Randolph. From the pink socks worn by the players to the pink ribbon streaming throughout the venue, the cancer awareness spirit was prominent in every corner.
Moments of silence were held for Nagy before each game.
"Cancer and the effects of it hit really close to home for Roxbury Volleyball," said senior Andie Ackerman. "This is one night a year that we can dedicate to help a cause that isn't new to us. It's a night that allows us remember what cancer has taken from us while raising funds to fight this horrible disease in the future. Kill Cancer Night for Roxbury Volleyball is an overall incredible experience."
In Tuesday’s action against Randolph, the Gaels won the first game 25-9 and the second one 25-19. The freshmen and junior varsity teams also played, but both lost their matches.
"After coaching here for six years and now moving over to Randolph, I'm very happy that I get to still be a part of this huge night," said DiPietro before the games began. "Being a part of Roxbury Randolph is huge. I got students on one side I got players on the other. It's just going to be a lot of fun"