Volleyball Team Salutes the Troops

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The special veteran guests at Tuesday night’s volleyball game. Photo by Judy Dunning

During CdM’s home volleyball game on Tuesday, the girls not only set, spiked and scored, they saluted American troops, as well.

The Corona del Mar High School girls’ team dedicated their home match against Northwood High School to the troops. The Sea Kings won the game, 3-0.

They invited several veterans to come and share their stories, collected DVDs for the non-profit organization Operation: A Bit of Home, honored CdM P.E. teacher and Air Force reservist Gary Matheison and had WWII glider pilot lead the pledge of allegiance.

To add to the festivities of the night, patriotic tunes filled the gym during warm-ups and the girls wore red, white and blue ribbons in their hair.

The night was somewhat of a send-off event by the girls for Matheison, who is leaving in November to serve for eight months.

He has been a teacher for Newport-Mesa Unified School District since 2004. His eight-year stint in the Navy Reserve was just about up when 9/11 happened. He decided to continue his service, this time in the Air Force Reserve.

Matheison is a beloved teacher at CdM, said parent Mary Ann Haly. The Red, White and Blue Night was the team’s way to honor him.

Four veterans also attended the game, making the event even more special. All four wore hats that displayed buttons, patches, medals and more. One even came dressed in full uniform.

“Just seeing these gentleman with their military hats on… I think warmed all our hearts!” Haly said.

Each spoke a bit about their experiences in the military. Madison Haly, a junior on the volleyball team, said she thought it was interesting to hear the veterans stories.

The game was also the kick-off event for the ASB’s DVD drive for Operation: A Bit of Home. The DVD drive will continue until Veteran’s Day and students can donate DVDs by dropping them off at the ASB office or in the box in their second period class.

Operation: A Bit of Home was started by husband and wife team, Ken and Angel Meyer, along with Ken’s father, Bob, a WWII glider pilot and the West Coast Director for OABOH. Angel Meyer served in Iraq in 2004, and was the inspiration behind the charity.

The organization’s goal is to improve the morale, welfare and relaxation of U.S. troops.

The charity has sent over 10,000 boxes filled with DVDs, hygiene items, snacks and sports equipment to troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan

Operation: A Bit Of Home supports Freedom Rest, the only Rest and Relaxation facility in Iraq for troops. According to the organization’s website, although the R&R facility is in the international zone in Baghdad, it is “constantly threatened by insurgent fire, and has been hit and damaged.”

“The troops that are chosen to visit Freedom Rest have recently been under fire and in combat, and need time away from the fighting,” the website states.

Donated goods go to Freedom Rest as well as “every corner of war zones, reaching troops in tents and outlying bases via convoys,” according to the website.

To learn how to donate and for more information, visit www.operationabitofhome.com/index1.html. Monetary donations, specifically to help with shipping costs, are also accepted.

The Salute the Troops game is just one way the volleyball team is doing something for the community.

Coach Marissa Booker has stressed the importance of our team giving back, said Haly.

One of the community service activities the girls participate in is the Reading Buddies program at Eastbluff Elementary. At least once a week before practice the girls will pair up with one of the students at Eastbluff and read together. The girls have had such a good time reading with their buddies, they invited them to their Oct. 27 game.

The next girls home volleyball game will be their senior tribute night on Oct. 25.

The CdM girls varsity volleyball team shows its patriotic side. Photo by Jim Johnson
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