MARK REIN Courier Gering
Nine teams took part in the Team Ashtyn Foundation Glow in the Dark Volleyball Tournament held on Sunday August 7 at the Webborg 21 Center in Gering.
Jennifer Schwartz, who runs the Team Ashtyn Foundation, said doing things like this helps generate funds for families struggling with childhood cancer.
“It is important that we continue to organize events like these for the Team Ashtyn Foundation,” she said. “It’s always nice to generate funds for our nonprofit, but the awareness and ongoing marketing helps reach the families who need us. The more people who know who we are, the more we are able to help. Childhood cancer continues to live in our communities and families continue to be affected. Unfortunately, this problem does not go away.
The tournament was scheduled for two divisions, but due to a lack of teams in both divisions, all nine teams were in one division, but they still awarded first place prizes for the adult and high school divisions.
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The high school division was won by Arm and Hammer, who finished third overall in the tournament. The Arm and Hammer members were members of the Scottsbluff High School volleyball team along with Tierra West, Paige Horne, Payton Burda, Austyn Andreas, and Ella Foote.
The overall winner went to Whistling Kitty Chasers who took a 3-set victory over We Dig Balls 16-21, 21-15, 15-13. Members of the winning team included Tyler Patrick, Cody Thompson, Joey Rasnic, Katie Rasnic, Sidnie Stabnow and Laura Van Housen. Members of the We Dig Ball included Victoria Schwartz, Olivia Schaub, Adia Sherbeyn, Cody Ferguson, Ashton Martin and Riley Schilz.
The honor for best dressed team went to 12 Bad Knees as they wore shorts with names on the back of their shorts that went through cancer. These members included Matthew Meyers, Andrea Meyers, Kaylin Meyers, Jade Ackerman, Tracy Duffield, Evy Duffield, and Stephanie Stricker.
This was the third year of the outdoor grass volleyball tournament and this year the organizers added a new twist – the Glow in the Dark evening game.
“It’s always nice to do something new and innovative when it comes to fundraising. I believe there is a need to spice up the events to keep the numbers growing,” Schwartz said. “I think some teams struggled to have time outs after pool play. It’s hard to motivate yourself to play again when there’s a delay in the schedule. We had to wait for the sun to set and that makes the motivation to get back into the game a bit more difficult. Many players got their first practice early in high school, so late-night play likely made some younger players anxious for the next morning.
“Next year we are planning to move the tournament to early June and to a Saturday which may help. But it is extremely difficult to find the ideal moment. I’m confident in saying that most teams loved the glow-in-the-dark game, even with the circumstances some teams may have had.
The tournament saw a lot of good play. Teams played round robin matches all afternoon, then played a knockout tournament at dusk so they could use phosphorescent balls and lights on the fillets.
The tournament portion of the game began with 2 Legit 2 Hit taking down 12 Bad Knees in the opening game 21-12, 21-17. The quarter-finals saw Whistling Kitty Chasers top 2 Legit 2 Hit 21-5, 21-6 followed by Arm and Hammer needing three sets to defeat Monument Elite 21-19, 14-21, 15-1. The other quarter-final matches saw We Dig Balls edge We Showed Up 21-9, 21-13 while Net Killers edged BPT Dream Team 21-0, 21-7.
The semi-finals saw We Dig Balls beat Net Killers 21-17, 21-15 while Whistling Kitty Chasers beat Arm and Hammer 21-6, 21-7 to set up the championship match which ended ends at 10 p.m. Sunday evening.
Schwartz said this year’s tournament was a success thanks to all the help she received. Schwartz said Jo Mikesell deserved the majority of the credit.
“She and her family spent all day there making sure everything was okay and dealing with complaints,” Schwartz said. “I appreciate her so much and the free service she gives to the foundation. She asks for nothing in return and does so out of the goodness of her heart.
Schwartz was also grateful to many other community members who volunteered their time to help the Team Ashtyn Foundation.
“Kristen Juelfs played a leading role in helping with the preparations. She also spent the day filling in where she was needed. Megan and Shelby Bewley did all the scoring and took very few, if any, breaks. These two young women are about as good as they come when it comes to volunteering.
Other people helped donate prizes and services including Roger Schwartzkopf who was the jersey sponsor and Lisa Webborg provided facilities, equipment and financial assistance.
“We are very grateful for their partnership and willingness to help,” Schwartz said. “Nebraska Machinery donated the generator and installed it for us, ready to use. A&A Porta Potties donated one of their products to us. This community has always supported our mission and will do what they can when asked. I am certainly grateful for that.
Schwartz said Webborg Center employee Ashtyn Martin was instrumental in helping out when needed.
“Ashtyn Martin was instrumental in helping us through the day,” Schwartz said. “We needed a few extra extension cords and power strips and he agreed. He is an awesome kid who has gone above and beyond and always has a smile on his face. I always get anxious when it comes to glow-in-the-dark objects. We did a lot of experimenting with this gear to make sure it would do what we needed it to, it wouldn’t interfere with the game, and it would work properly. These items can also be very expensive.
“Some of the items we distributed to players and spectators were products we had left over from previous events. However, lights for the net, black lights, light stakes, and balls (we tried hard to keep them soft and almost regulation-like) had to be purchased, and most of them did what we had planned. The two light up volleyballs were ridiculously expensive but were pretty awesome! If we continue with this event, it will be good to have them in the future and reduce future costs.