TOWSON, Md. — Goucher freshman Erika DiPasquale (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) made an immediate impact on the volleyball court this past fall, ranking second in the Landmark Conference with 67 aces in her debut season. Even more impressive, though, is the amount of time she devotes to raising awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society off the court.
DiPasquale initiated a Coaches vs. Cancer event at the Gophers' home finale in October which raised over $200 to the organization, and she has now expanded those efforts beyond her own sport. Goucher's lacrosse programs will host a conference doubleheader beginning at noon on Saturday, March 28, and, thanks to DiPasquale, there will be several opportunities to donate to the ACS throughout the games.
Those in attendance at the event, which has been rebranded as Gophers vs. Cancer, can support the initiative by purchasing a $1 card to illustrate cancer's impact across the community. For $10, fans can dedicate a Luminaria bag in memory or in honor of a loved one affected by cancer. Other donations of all sizes (cash and check only) will also be accepted.
Volunteering with the ACS, is nothing new for DiPasquale, who is very active with the group in her hometown of Paramus, New Jersey.
"In my junior year of high school, I started a Relay for Life in Paramus," she said. "Which is a 12 hour overnight walk for the American Cancer Society that unites the entire community. That exposed me to an ongoing, never-ending list of people who have been affected by cancer."
Growing up as a girl scout, DiPasquale began working with the organization before she was 10 years old. In addition to the people she has met through her volunteer efforts, the fight against cancer is a personal cause for her as well.
"I have two grandparents who passed away from cancer before I was born," DiPasquale said. "And actually one of my high school teammates is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed in her sophomore year of high school, and by a complete miracle was able to play her junior season. When we started Relay for Life, it was done in honor of her surviving."
For men's lacrosse head coach Brian Kelly, contributing to DiPasquale's work with the ACS was a no-brainer. Patti Mishaw was a beloved member of the Goucher lacrosse community. Her son, Connor, was an All-American goalkeeper who graduated in 2013.
Patti coordinated the tailgates, welcomed new families into the Goucher community and cheered for the Gophers at every game before losing a valiant battle with cancer in March, 2011. The entire team and coaching staff attended her memorial service. All funds raised during Goucher's game against Drew on March 28 will be donated to the ACS in her name.
"It's easy for us as Goucher programs to get involved in this initiative," Kelly said. "Because Erika is basically doing everything. It's really special to see a freshman with this kind of passion for a great cause."
Those who donate on the 28th will have an opportunity to participate in a shooting competition on the field during halftime of the men's game. Donations will be accepted through the conclusion of the women's 3 p.m. contest against Scranton.
DiPasquale continues to serve as the volunteer coordinator for her hometown Relay for Life. This year's walk, which takes place on June 12-13, has already raised over $6,400 (more info available here). As for her work at Goucher, DiPasquale has big plans for her next three years on campus.
"I want to get as many sports involved as possible," she said. "I care so much about the American Cancer Society, and I trust that they really are doing a lot of things with their money, based on the people I've met and my own experience. Only the government contributes more to cancer research than the ACS, and I think that we as Goucher athletes could make a big difference if we all united towards the cause."