PREP NOTEBOOK: Dig for the Cure close to Cascade coach’s heart

For Wendy Close, the annual Dig for the Cure volleyball match means more than ever.

Close, Cascade High School’s volleyball coach, is a breast cancer survivor. Her successful fight helped inspire the first Cascade versus Everett Dig for the Cure event in 2007.

The third annual Dig for the Cure match — once again pitting cross-town rivals Everett (3-1 Western Conference North Division, 6-4 overall) and Cascade (2-3, 2-8) — is at 7 p.m. tonight at Cascade’s Reg Scodeller gym.

Beyond her own battle, Close has had loved ones hit hard by cancer. Close’s sister, Mary Eldridge, recently had a mastectomy, and this past summer Eldridge’s husband died of cancer. Awareness-building and fundraising events like Dig for the Cure are crucial, Close said.

“It is special to me. Everybody knows somebody that’s been affected by cancer, whether they’ve died or they’re a survivor,” said Close.

Last year Everett High hosted Dig for the Cure. This year it returns to Cascade, the site of the inaugural event. Fan can buy pink shirts at the door for $10, with $7 going to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure network, which supports breast cancer research. Money will also be raised with a silent auction. Items up for bid include fleece blankets, a quilt and commemorative mini volleyballs.

“Hopefully we’ll have a lot of people there and raise a lot of money,” coach Close said.

Players from both teams will wear special pink-hued uniforms and play with a pink-and-white ball.

Cancer survivors who attend the match will receive carnations at the door — pink flowers for breast cancer, white for all others. A survivor, Close’s sister, will sing the national anthem before the competition begins.

Led by team captains Kaitie Brush and Danielle Love, Cascade players planned this year’s event. During a practice last week they took a break and made about 50 signs to promote Dig for the Cure, Close said.

Excitement has been building for a long time. Brush, the Bruins captain, told Close, “I’ve been waiting to do this for two years.”

Jackson’s Carr gets offer from Air Force football

Jackson High’s Riley Carr, a senior running back/linebacker, received his first college football scholarship offer. The Air Force Academy made an offer to Carr, a 6-foot, 225-pounder, on Saturday. Carr is “super excited” but “not in a super-huge hurry (to commit). I think he’d like to see (how) the next few weeks unfold,” Jackson football coach Joel Vincent said.

Readers’ Poll: Best local football team?

In an online poll, two-thirds of Herald readers said unbeaten Jackson (7-0) is the area’s best high school football team. No. 4 in the Tacoma News Tribune Class 4A rankings, Jackson received 67 percent of votes. Undefeated Marysville-Pilchuck (7-0) was the distant runnerup with 12 percent.

Kamiak swim coach honored

Kamiak High’s Chris Erickson was named Washington’s 2008-09 Boys Swimming Coach of the Year. Erickson, who guided the Kamiak boys squad to the 2009 Class 4A team title, received the honor from the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association and the Washington Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association. Erickson is now eligible for a national coach of the year award.

Jackson pitcher verbally commits

Jackson pitcher Dani Jackman verbally committed to the Grand Canyon University softball team, an NCAA Division II program in Phoenix. Jackman was an All-Wesco South second team honoree this past spring. To see a list of local athletes’ commitments, go to www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam and search “college commitments”.

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