You wouldn’t think that a volleyball game could help cure breast cancer.
But students at Mount Pleasant High School know better. Since 2008, the school’s AWSUM (Athletes Who Share Unselfish Moments) Club has raised thousands of dollars for breast cancer charities with a volleyball tournament – and they recently received statewide recognition for their efforts.
On May 7, the club’s leadership traveled to Chapel Hill to accept the Commissioner’s Cup, awarded by the N.C. High School Athletic Association. This award recognizes outstanding community service from athletes at the local level.
MPHS athletic director Phil Furr gave an announcement about the competition to AWSUM Club adviser Michael Landers at the beginning of the school year. Landers and the AWSUM Club leadership team recruited student Chase Newmeyer to create the club’s one-minute video entry about their annual King of the Court volleyball tournament.
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King of the Court started as a Mount Pleasant High event: teams of male students competing in a volleyball tournament to crown the school champions. But students from other schools heard about the tournament and in 2011, they “came knocking on our door,” Landers said. That year, Northwest Cabarrus, Concord, and Central Cabarrus High Schools joined Mount Pleasant for King of the Court, and in 2012 every school in the county participated.
Since then the tournament has moved from Mount Pleasant for a two-year run at J.M. Robinson and next year goes to Hickory Ridge. Including other schools and changing the venue has increased the amount of money raised. In the past two years, the King of the Court tournament netted $28,000 for breast cancer charities.
At Mount Pleasant High School, this year’s tournament raised more than $3,000, which was all donated to local charities, including the Vickie Honeycutt Foundation and Wishing Well at CMC Northeast.
Keeping the focus local is important to the AWSUM Club leadership team of Madison Herring, Lauren West, Anna Fowler and Kailyn Sanderson. “Students know people who have had cancer,” Sanderson explained. “People in our community are really affected by it.”
“Mount Pleasant is the last community that really sticks together like we do,” Herring said. “We’re not like other schools.”
All four leaders emphasized the tremendous support from the student body, as evidenced by a clip in Newmeyer’s video that shows the entire school, wearing pink, gathered in the commons area to yell, “Cure cancer!”
That one-minute, prize-winning video took Newmeyer countless hours to create. He started working on it in September, compiling hundreds of video clips of interviews and volleyball games. “It was hard,” Newmeyer said of the final week of editing before the competition deadline. “It was almost unbearable.”
“He’s our idol,” Landers said of Newmeyer, who is not a student athlete or a member of the AWSUM Club, but admits that he likes to compete and that “I’m pretty good” at creating videos.
For Newmeyer and the student leaders, the cause made all their efforts worthwhile. “It’s rewarding to know,” Sanderson said, “that we’ve made a difference.”
Marcia Morris is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marcia? Email her at EasternCabarrusWriter@gmail.com