Sometimes even the most diehard fan is faced with the reality that there are more important things in life than sports.
When the opportunity presents itself to use sports as a mechanism for inducing change, raising awareness and money for important things like cancer research it allows even the most ardent fan to stand up and take notice.
Such was the case in Thursday's Cheer for the Cure tournament put on by the Central Lakes College volleyball team. The tournament featured the Raiders and three other nationally ranked teams facing off in a series of games that had more to do with raising awareness and funds for cancer research than results on the scoreboard.
Jenna Terhaar (right) prepared to block a ball from Rochester's Courtney Lermon during the Central Lakes College "Cheer for the Cure" volleyball tournament Thursday. For more photos go to Spotted@brainerddispatch.com.
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
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All week CLC players prepared for the event that included the Ridgewater Warriors, ranked third in the NJCAA Division III poll; Rochester Yellowjackets, ranked fifth; Hibbing Cardinals, ranked seventh; and the Raiders, ranked ninth.
Proceeds from concessions, admission, T-shirt sales and player-made cookie and cupcake sales will go toward providing money for cancer research.
With all four teams wearing some pink on their uniforms, the Raiders started off with a closely contested 20-25, 25-17, 24-26, 17-25 loss to the Yellowjackets.
In the nightcap CLC faced off against Ridgewater. After dropping the first game 25-14, CLC bounced back and held a 19-15 advantage in the second before losing 26-24. The Warriors' comeback in the previous game deflated the Raiders' momentum as CLC lost the third game 25-16 and the match 3-0.
"I think anybody who was here could see how mental toughness is really important and they were more mentally tough than us," Raiders coach Jane Peterson said. "Some of that comes with confidence and some of that comes with experience. Really, there are all sorts of factors that go into having that toughness and it was obvious tonight they were a step ahead of us in that department."
Cheer for the Cure
Highlights: The Raiders lost a tight 26-24 second game against Ridgewater to fall behind 2-0 and were unable to bounce back.
Overall: CLC 15-6
Next: CLC at Hibbing 1 p.m. Saturday in Region 13B playoff game
Despite the losses the opportunity to play against stiff competition should benefit CLC as it prepares to face Hibbing Saturday in a playoff to determine the host of the Region 13B tournament.
"We haven't played teams like this for a long time," Peterson said. "The North Division we play in plays a slower-paced game of volleyball so games like these allow us to see that we can play at that high-level pace.
"The opportunity to see Hibbing also should help us in our game Saturday. (Hibbing has) a lot of the same characteristics that Ridgewater has, in terms of experience and athleticism. They don't have quite the firepower but the game is going to be decided by our ability to focus on wanting it more and staying in control of our emotions."
Regardless of scores and results the final impression of Thursday's event should be more about four quality teams coming together to compete and raise money for a worthy cause than about who defeated who and by how much.
"It was a good experience for the team to turn their focus toward something else that is way more important than sports or volleyball," Peterson said. "This is something that allowed them to feel like they are helping a great cause.
"It was definitely a positive for our program and the school. Even though we didn't make a million dollars you know everything helps. I just know there is someone in some lab somewhere who is going to find something that is going to make a difference and will change a lot of peoples' lives."
The event also left an imprint on Raiders players.
"It was a very important event for us as a team," freshman Kayla Atkinson said. "We had a lot of fun putting this together. We all made cupcakes and cookies and have been frosting our butts off the whole week. It was also a chance for a lot of team bonding and gave us a chance to give back and hopefully raise awareness about breast cancer and all other types of cancer.
Central Lakes College players Elora Meisner (7), Tika Nichols (9), Erica Feldewerd (4) and Rachel Pfeffer celebrated a point against Rochester Community and Technical College Thursday during the "Cheer for the Cure" volleyball tournament. For more photos go to Spotted@brainerddispatch.com. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
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"Things likes this help you out in life. I know that everyone of us on the team is going to take this experience and use it throughout our lives. It helps put sports in perspective in terms of all the things that other people are dealing with everyday."
"When you are 18 or 19 like these girls you really don't worry about a whole lot," Peterson said. "I think it has been good for the team to become aware that there are people out there who didn't make it to 18 or 19 or had parents pass away before they were 18 or 19. It is a good chance to show there are more important things in life than winning volleyball games or going to state.
"If one week of awareness can influence people even a little then these types of events will always be worth it."
Rochester 25 17 26 25
Central Lakes 20 25 24 17
CLC statistics vs. Rochester
Kayla Atkinson 1 set assist, 6 digs
Rachel Pfeffer 4 kills, 35 set assists, 1 ace serve, 7 digs, 1 block
Erica Feldewerd 16 kills, 2 ace serves, 13 digs
Megan Rakow 6 digs
Elora Meisner 5 kills, 1 dig, 3 blocks
Jenna Terhaar 7 kills, 4 blocks
Tika (Klauck) Nichols 2 kills, 1 dig, 1 block
Kirstie Grill 7 kills, 3 ace serves, 5 blocks
Christine Malm 1 ace serve, 4 digs
Krystle Hamilton 7 digs
Kaitlyn Roerick 1 kill
Ridgewater 25 26 25
Central Lakes 14 24 16
CLC statistics vs. Ridgewater
Kayla Atkinson 1 kill, 2 digs
Rachel Pfeffer 1 kill, 18 set assists, 1 ace serve, 2 digs
Erica Feldewerd 7 kills, 3 ace serves, 8 digs, 1 block
Elora Meisner 1 kill, 1 dig
Jenna Terhaar 6 kills, 1 ace serve, 2 digs, 1 block
Tika (Klauck) Nichols 2 kills
Kirstie Grill 5 kills, 1 ace serve, 1 dig, 1 block
Christine Malm 7 digs
Krystle Hamilton 1 ace serve, 3 digs
Kaitlyn Roerick 1 kill
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