North Salem High School varsity volleyball team wins NYSPHSAA fall Community Service Challenge

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The North Salem High School girls varsity volleyball team won the Fall Community Service Challenge from the NYSPHSA for their breast cancer awareness initiative. (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) chose the North Salem Middle/High School’s Girls Volleyball Team as the winner of the fall 2022 Community Service Challenge.

The team was chosen by the NYSPHSAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) during its recent meeting at the SAAC Summit held in Syracuse, NY. This is the first time North Salem has won this prestigious award.

North Salem's volleyball team has long worked with the Side-Out Foundation to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. This year, senior captain Gigi LeClair led the initiative, leading and organizing fundraising events within the school and the community . The team engaged in a multitude of activities including decorating the hallways and gyms of the Middle School/High School, hosting a school-wide "pink out" to raise awareness, and hosted a car wash fundraiser at the Croton Falls fire station.

"It is an absolute honor and pleasure to receive this award on behalf of my team, athletic department, and school," LeClair said. "This was something much more than an award for me. It was and is everything. As a team, we helped save lives and create awareness for such a terrible disease that affects many."

At 13, LeClair tragically lost her mother to breast cancer, which was her motivating force during this community project. Under her leadership, the North Salem girls volleyball team raised over $19,000 for the Side-Out Foundation and its Dig Pink Program.

[North Salem High School volleyball team raises nearly $20,000 for breast cancer research]

"This fundraiser's foundation was built on love and the joy of helping others,” LeClair said. “Our very small town had a very big impact. Thank you to my team, the staff that helped, and the people who have gotten up every day and fought. My only wish is to remember the people we have lost and use their memory to power our project further."

“The North Salem Volleyball team could not be more honored to receive the award,” added Toni Fiore, North Salem High school girls volleyball head coach. “It is truly an incredible experience for such an important cause. The team worked so earnestly to be able to say it helped those individuals and families fighting metastatic breast cancer. We received so much support from the community and are so thankful for their efforts in helping us reach and surpass our goal.”

A total of 179 community service projects were submitted for consideration through the Team Up 4 Community platform. In total, more than 8,000 NYSPHSAA student-athletes donated over 128,000 hours of their time to some sort of community service project this fall. Those hours resulted in $198,748 raised for charitable causes. The NYSPHSAA Community Challenge has been in existence since 2011.

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“The Community Service Challenge is a great program to showcase the positive impact student-athletes can have within their communities,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director. “We could not be prouder to recognize North Salem’s Girls Volleyball team for their commitment and dedication to such a worthy cause.”

North Salem’s full submission can be viewed here.

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