Volleyball fans set to pack Kiski Area gym for good cause
Jam the Gym at Kiski Area on Wednesday will be different for many reasons — some exciting, others somber.
The fundraiser, in its fourth year, was started to help then-cancer-stricken Kiski Area volleyball coaches Jaime Vick Moran and Ellen Toy. Among the schedule of activities, this year's event will feature three matches: a junior varsity match, a varsity match and, for the first time, a college match.
“The new, cool thing is we're going to have a match between Point Park and Carlow after the Kiski Area-Connellsville match,” said Tim Toy, one of the event's organizers and Ellen Toy's husband. “It's really neat.”
The free event starts at 5 p.m. at the Kiski Area High School gymnasium.
Tim Toy said Point Park coach Mike Bruno, a Kiski Area graduate, helped make the college match a reality.
“He was at the very first Jam the Gym,” Toy said. “Michael loves coming back home and putting on quite a show.”
The event has benefited many charities, and this year it will raise money for the Jaime Vick Moran Scholarship Fund.
Moran died in August 2012 from complications following treatment for her third bout with leukemia.
“The scholarship has reached a point where it's able to sustain itself,” Tim Toy said of the fund, which gives a $1,000 scholarship to a worthy Kiski Area female athlete. “We want to do more and do two (scholarships). There's an attainable number out there and we're trying to hit it.”
Noticeably absent from the Cavaliers' sideline will be Ellen Toy, who is recovering from her latest cancer relapse and had to resign last month to focus on her recovery.
Taking over for Toy will be assistant Maggie Jones.
“Ellen Toy was my coach in high school (at Leechburg) and was probably the best coach I ever had,” Jones said. “I was heartbroken when I heard that Coach Toy wouldn't be coaching this year.
“As much as I want to do for these girls, you cannot replace Ellen Toy. The Jam the Gym this year is so much to play for that goes further than volleyball.”
Jones said while the atmosphere is electric for the event, she doesn't see her team having a problem controlling their emotions.
“With everything that this team's been through, it's really a group of girls that grew together,” she said. “It's not hard to keep them in check. They are so excited to play in this game. They understand and they get it, the bigger purpose for it.”
Jones said having a college match on the team's home court is special.
“We are honored because two of our former players (Lyndsey Weiser and Kaylie Dilts) are going to be playing for Carlow,” she said. “Anytime you have an opportunity to see collegiatelevel volleyball, there's a lot to learn.”
Along with volleyball, attendees will have plenty to do. Items to be raffled include autographed Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang jerseys, Penguins tickets and a stay at a Florida condo.
Tim Toy said he's amazed at the outpouring of support the event and his family have received over the past three-plus years.
“It's humbling how the community is involved in all of this,” he said. ‘This year's event is very special.”
R.A. Monti is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.