Battle of the Sexes for a Worthy Cause

To view photos of the night’s festivities, visit the photo gallery later today at the following link:

NEWTOWN – Wendell Beres walked over to the scorer’s table where Sarah Kiely was manning the scoreboard for the junior varsity contest at Friday night’s spirited Battle of the Sexes and offered a piece of advice.
“You should be warming up,” the Council Rock North soccer coach said.
“I have been ready for this all day,” Kiely replied.
Kiely wasn’t kidding. In truth, the Indians’ senior middle hitter and her teammates had been waiting for this night since last May.
That’s when Beres and volleyball coach Kinsey Lynch decided to band forces to hold a fund raiser that would not only benefit Breast Cancer Awareness but also Athletes Helping Athletes.  Neither probably could have imagined just how successful that joint venture would be.
In addition to a spirited night of volleyball, the teams raised $1,350 to contribute to the Eileen Stein Jacoby Fund for cancer research at Fox Chase.
"We do events all the time," said Cheryl Herman, the sister of Jacoby who started the fund. "This is the first time we were welcomed into Council Rock. When we came in, I didn't know what to expect, but they were very open-armed, and I couldn't believe the camaraderie and the togetherness.
"Everything was pink, and it touched me. I thought it was such a nice event - having all the moms and dads and the kids getting this together. It was just a really nice night."
More than $500 also was donated to Athletes Helping Athletes.
“This was fantastic,” Beres said. “It took off and turned into something that is exactly what we had hoped. It’s a very good opportunity for the guys and girls to relax and have a good time before they start district playoffs next week – it kind of eases the tension of that.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better night, we couldn’t have asked for a better crowd. The kids were fantastic in how they handled themselves.”
For one member of the boys’ soccer team, the night was especially personal. Chris Kulczytzky’s mother lost her battle to breast cancer on Sept. 10, 2008.
“This is good because it was for my mom,” he said. “They’re all my friends, and it means a lot to know they care. It was nice.”
According to Beres, it was the least his squad could do for one of its own.
“We try to preach the family mentality in our program, and I know that goes through the entire athletic department,” the Indians’ coach said. “When something like this happens to one of our own, we treat it like it’s our own family member, and the guys really rallied behind the cause and the reason behind it and really made it into a great night.”
It was hard to tell who was having more fun – the players, the fans or the members of Athletes Helping Athletes. Heather Young – who occupied a spot on the bench between the coaches – was asked to be the volleyball team’s honorary captain for Thursday night’s playoff spot.
“I’m really proud of the girls and how they’re interacting with our guests,” Lynch said. “Athletes Helping Athletes are such great kids. They have said numerous times tonight how much fun they’re having, and it’s really nice to honor them and to also give support to breast cancer awareness.”
Peter Brill – affectionately known as the Governor of Newtown - was on the bench for the boys’ soccer team while Ryan Farrell – the Mayor of Newtown -  gave his trademark thumbs-up to the girls’ volleyball team. Kevin Kristich, Cole Damiani and Anna Krauss also participated in the festivities, serving as line judges one minute and cheering their teams on the next.
“We love having them here,” senior captain Sarah Morrison said of the AHA participants. “They cheer for everyone, and the atmosphere is so much more positive. They’re great.”
“They always make you smile, no matter what,” senior captain Jackie Davies added. “Bringing two teams together for a good cause is amazing and makes everyone aware of what we’re playing for.”
Every year the soccer team chooses another Rock North team to support.
“We figured we both were going to be pretty good, and we both had a rivalry with Pennsbury, so we picked the volleyball team,” senior captain Nick Becker said.
“We went to a few of their games, and they came to some of ours,” co-captain Steve Neumann added. “There’s a good camaraderie amongst us, and it’s a lot of fun.
“In past years, it definitely wasn’t as good as this.”
For two of the players – sophomores Amy Malakoff and Phil Marks, it may have even resulted in a date to the fall formal. The two knew each other before the soccer and volleyball teams joined forces, but this solidified the friendship.
At least until the two took the volleyball court and Marks had difficulty keeping his serves inbounds.
“He embarrassed me a little,” Malakoff said with a laugh.
“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” Marks said.
His teammates undoubtedly would have echoed that sentiment. The boys’ jayvee lost in two straight to the girls’ jayvee volleyball squad while the varsity soccer team – after falling in the first game – managed to eke out a win in the second game, setting off a jubilant celebration.
That celebration ended quickly, however, as the girls won the third game to earn bragging rights.
“The atmosphere was really competitive,” Kiely said. “Every time someone went up for a kill, they’d say, ‘We have got to block her. That’s not happening.’ There was chatter across the net which was fun because in games no one talks like that.”
The soccer players were good sports, tipping their hats to the volleyball squad.
“They’re definitely a great volleyball team,” Neumann said. “We gave it our all. We practiced a few times, but they’re a great team.
“They will go far in districts and states. It was a lot of fun to play them.”
“I didn’t think I would break a sweat, but I did,” Becker added. “It was fun. They were really good.”
Becker acknowledged that Friday’s volleyball challenge was the highlight of what had become a special relationship with the girls’ squad.
“We came in anticipating it so much – warming up before the game, taping our wrists and just having fun with it,” he said. “Knowing it was going to a worthy cause made it that much better and knowing it was a player on our team made it even better than that.”
“We got to know each other a lot better,” Neumann added. “Even amongst our own team, we’ve just had a lot of fun.
“We care about (Chris) a lot, and by doing this, we hope it makes him feel a little better too.”
According to Lynch, the night – which included a whole lot of pink – couldn’t have gone any better.
“We’re thrilled,” she said. “It’s a great way to build sportsmanship and school spirit. We’re really proud of both teams.
“I was very impressed with the boys’ soccer team. I have to be honest – if we were challenged to play them in soccer, we wouldn’t have done nearly as well as they did in volleyball.”
They may have a chance to find out how they’ll measure up in the not-too-distant future.
“We’ll do soccer next year,” Beres said.
If it’s for a good cause, expect the volleyball team to be there.