Dig Pink: 15 Years of Community

October 16, 2023 5 min read

Whether someone is a volleyball fanatic, a supporter of the cause, or just loves the colour, Dig Pink is an iconic part of every school year. This year is the biggest event yet—with 30 participating teams, Calgary Academy is looking to add to the $160,000 raised since the inaugural tournament.

A few days away from the 15th anniversary of Dig Pink, let’s take a trip down memory lane. The tournament’s humble and altruistic beginnings continue to impact the CA community.

Bringing a School Together

Dig Pink started as a simple idea: “why don’t we host a volleyball tournament and raise some money and awareness for breast cancer research?” This idea has had an incredible ripple effect no one could have predicted at the first tournament.

Senior School teacher Mark Schuegraf remembers the first Dig Pink well. While the tournament experienced a significant problem, the response from visiting schools showed the power of the community.

As Dig Pink was just getting started, an electrical outage cut power to the school, gyms, and surrounding neighbourhood. After sitting in a Starbucks (one of the only nearby buildings with electricity) for over an hour, CA staff knew they had to cancel the tournament.

With heavy hearts, teachers contacted all the teams to refund their entry fees, but something special happened when they reached out: everybody refused.

“We emailed every team apologizing and offered a refund, and every team without fail said, ‘keep the money, donate it to breast cancer research, and just have us back next year.’”  – Mr. Schuegraf

Dig Pink is bigger than ever now, but its heart has never changed. It’s an event that connects the CA community every year, with everyone pitching in to help as scorekeepers, referees, and fundraisers.

Almost too many people want to help every year—whether it’s staff, students, parents, or alumni returning to CA. The community working together helps keep costs as low as possible so all the incoming funds can go to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, from cupcake sales to team entry fees.

In the school, the hallways fill with supportive signs and messages, pink t-shirts, and the smell of fresh baked goods. Students cheer as loud as possible during games, and many teachers have dyed their hair, beards, and moustaches pink.

Each tournament begins with a pep rally and opening game, with the Senior girls repping homemade jerseys. The stands fill with students from all grades, creating a wave of bright pink outfits. Everyone can feel the electricity when they step into the gym.

For students, many athletes grow up wanting to represent their school and community years before they join the volleyball team.

Senior girls volleyball player Madi Y. remembers watching the tournament when she was younger and looking forward to when she got to step onto the court.

“I remember when I was in Grade 5 and seeing how big this tournament is. Being able to play in it now is amazing. I think it’s the best part of Dig Pink.”

Whether it’s excitement to play in the tournament, raise donations, or show school spirit, everyone comes together to celebrate. On the surface, Dig Pink is just a volleyball tournament, but its impact runs much deeper than sports—it provides a safe space for everyone to speak about the impact cancer has had in their lives.

The opening pep rally typically includes an inspiring guest speaker, whether it’s a teacher, student, parent, or representative from the Alberta Cancer Foundation. When reflecting on Dig Pink, Mr. Schuegraf believes it drives all participants to want to better themselves.

“Dig Pink touches so many lives that you don’t even know about… I think it gives everybody that sense of purpose and drive to want to be better and do something positive.

Dig Pink is bigger than volleyball. It’s bigger than any of us. It’s something more.” – Mr. Schuegraf

Come Celebrate 15 Years of CA Pride

A few days away from the first serve of this year’s tournament, players, coaches, students, and staff are all waiting to throw on their pink gear and get started.

Two Senior volleyball players, Noor M. and Sydney L., see Dig Pink as a highlight of the school year. The tournament is a favourite memory for many students’ times at CA.

“Making friendships and playing with your teammates is the best. It’s really fun to have games that are so exciting.” – Noor and Sydney

While CA’s Head of Athletics, Nick Waterbury promises another year of significant fundraising and volleyball thrills, he most looks forward to seeing everyone come together, no matter what school they’re from.

“When I go to other schools who have been in the tournament before—they wear Dig Pink stuff instead of their school hoodies… It’s cool to see how the entire community comes together. We’re not just CA—we’re all here for Dig Pink.”

Join the CA community to catch the volleyball action from Oct. 19–21. Celebrate another year of Dig Pink and support an important cause by donating to the Alberta Cancer Foundation.