Charity volleyball game raises $2,700

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In what has traditionally been one of the biggest fundraisers of the year in the Sayville/West Sayville community, the middle school girls Purple and Gold volleyball teams faced off in a charity exhibition match to raise money for a Golden Flash in need.

This year, the match was held at the middle school on Tuesday, Jan. 11, and unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions, was limited to an audience of 150 parents and friends of the players.

In past years, there have up to 700 attendees with standing-room only, according to longtime volleyball coach Jim McLoughlin.

McLoughlin, who is retiring this year after coaching since 1990, has lead the Sayville girls middle school team, high school junior varsity volleyball, and middle school swimming and diving team.

A former swimmer/diver himself, McLoughlin has long been active in sharing the athletic prowess of his players with the community for the greater good.

“This is for the wider community,” said McLoughlin. “The game is really a catalyst for the fundraiser.”

For the past five years, the fundraiser game’s proceeds have gone to a local family in need.

McLoughlin typically scours social media, or gets tips from other faculty or community members of someone who might have had a life-changing event that has put them in a precarious financial situation.

In a show of decorum and dignity, that family has always remained anonymous.

“The kids actually have no idea who this money is going to,” said McLoughlin.

This year, the girls volleyball players raised over $2,700 in less than a week.

In 2018, without the pandemic restrictions, they raised over $7,500, charging $2 for tickets at the door along with raffle sales.

A call for community-donated raffle baskets goes out before the game and typically there are three to four to raffle off.

One year, there was an abundance, and the team had 15 to raffle off to the crowds.

The Purple and Gold teams then play three sets, with a raffle drawn between each set.

In previous years, they had tried to do as many as five sets, but found it burdensome for players and the audience.

In addition to the gift baskets, they also auction off $100 gift certificates from the Sayville Athletic club for the Sayville volleyball clinic.

Leading up to the charity fundraiser, the common area of the middle school is divided into Purple and Gold quarters by McLoughlin, who finds that egging on the friendly rivalry between the two teams adds to the popularity of the game.

“It certainly creates an atmosphere
to promote the fundraiser,” said McLoughlin.

The volleyball season typically starts two weeks before Thanksgiving, and efforts towards the fundraiser begin right after the holiday break, with the players selling tickets for the raffles.

McLoughlin said he was incredibly proud of how the players were so “adaptable” to the ever-changing rules of school sports during the pandemic and how they showed “perseverance through it all.”

The volleyball teams typically average two games a week (sometimes one game a week and then three games the following week) with practice held two to three times a week.

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