News

Virginia Elite Dig-A-Thon and Outdoor Doubles Tournament for Dig Pink!!

January 29, 2019

It is with great pleasure that we announce Virginia Elite is digging pink once again this year with 2 events!! Please mark your calendars for the club wide dig-a-thon at Capitol Hill Classic, as well as, our grass, doubles tournament on June 15th 2019 to benefit the Side-Out Foundation. The Side-Out Foundations goal is to support the metastatic breast cancer community and its research. Maddie Bonifas of our 17s team started our dig pink efforts last year and will continue to spearhead this cause with our support. We once again are proud to support her efforts in honor of her mother, Michelle Bonifas! Michelle passed away almost 3 years ago from metastatic breast cancer while Maddie was a part of our 14’s team. We are always proud to support dig pink events but it’s even more special when it takes on a very personal meaning to a member of our community. Maddie will be orchestrating the event with our full support and will be providing details to the club as they become available. She would like to kick off this tournament by sharing her personal story of her mom’s battle with breast cancer, what Virginia Elite has meant to her and her dedication to honoring her mom!

Maddie was also recently featured in the news (along with her Stone Bridge teammates who you may recognize in the background) where she spoke about the tournament: http://wjla.com/sports/rising-stars/after-losing-mother-to-breast-cancer-maddie-bonifas-uses-volleyball-as-her-sanctuary

Please mark your calendars and spread the word as we hope that you and many more can join in our dig pink efforts. More details will be released soon so please stay tuned.

When I was in 7th grade my mom was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. I was scared and I didn’t know what was going to happen. At the time I was playing for another club as a 13 and no matter where I was, my mom’s problems seemed to follow me. My mom went through tons of chemo and side effects and surgeries and radiation and an unimaginable amount of pain. This began to take an emotional toll on me and my family. When that season came to an end, so did my mom’s battle. She had officially entered remission and was cancer free. That news was a huge weight off of my chest but now we all needed to emotionally heal from that year. As summer passed and school started up again, I started looking around at clubs. Rather than me finding Elite, Elite found me. I was peppering up against a wall at school when an elite coach noticed me. She took down my contact information and only a few weeks later, Coach Kim and Dave Sears were at one of my LYV games inviting me to clinics with Elite. I accepted and joined my fellow teammate, Julia Gleason, at the clinics. A few months later, we were both overjoyed to find out that we had both made Elite as 14’s. That was when my Elite journey first began. I was an emotionally broken kid who just wanted to find a club to call home and I had finally gotten that opportunity.

Our season progressed and I felt so accepted and at home whenever I was with Elite. The parents of our team that year were so welcoming to my mom who was nervous to meet everyone with barely any hair and the lasting effects from her surgery showing. They treated her like everyone else and they loved her. They loved our family like we were already a part of theirs. In April of 2016, my grandma got diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. That just emotionally shattered me. I pushed a lot of people out of my life and slipped into depression and anxiety. I couldn’t emotionally handle any more pain or hurt. Every day was a struggle for me until I went to practice. I could be with a team who were like my sisters and my coaches that were like my parents. I could take my anger out on the ball and I could talk to my team about what was going on in my life and I would receive love and support. I could let all my struggles at home disappear. I could escape from the rest of my life simply by stepping into the doors of Madeira. It was an unexplainable relief to know that I could have a good time doing what I love in an environment that would never stop loving me.

About a month later, my mom relapsed. Her cancer had come back as metastatic stage 4 breast cancer in the form of 3 tumors in her liver. That was a time where I could barely get out of bed in the morning, but I did it , and when I went to practice, I forgot about all of the hurt I was feeling for 2 short hours. I emotionally revealed the relapse to my team and coaches at a local tournament. My mom showed up that day for our tournament which was the last one she ever attended. We won the whole NVPL that day. Coach Lexi found out about the relapse and sent us beautiful flowers which made my mom smile for the first time in a while. Quickly my mom took a turn for the worst. On June 10, 2016 my mom passed away while I was at practice. I had been to the hospital earlier that day to see her and when I was given the option to go to practice or to stay with my mom, I chose practice as an escape. Before practice I told Julia and another teammate what was going on. During practice, I remained in contact with my dad for updates on my mom’s condition. Eventually he stopped answering and I knew it was time to tell my team what was going on. I explained how the doctors didn’t expect my mom to make it through the weekend and how she was at the hospital now. Everyone hugged me and we all cried together. After practice I was dropped off at the hospital where I was informed my mom had passed. The first people I texted were my team. Mrs. Gleason handled all of the contacts and information to Elite which was extremely helpful.

When my mom’s funeral came around, my entire team and their families were there. My team coaches along with most of the club coaches were there. Even some girls from other teams and their families were there including my club big sister, Claire Ferrell, who was utterly supportive. They kept my mind off of things and showed me all of the love and support in the world. The next week we were in Florida for national’s. We had 2 team dig pink days and 1 club wide dig pink day all in honor of my mom. Everyone was wearing everything pink. I have never felt so much love in my entire life.

Over that summer I reached a point where I began to contemplate my life. I was at my lowest just before attending Elite’s fall clinics prior to my 15’s year. At the clinics I finally began to rediscover the joy that had been missing from my life. Virginia Elite truly saved me. My 15’s season was full of love and support from my teammates, new and old. I knew I could go to any of them at any time and they would be there for me and help me get through every first without my mom. I returned again this year for my 16’s and 3rd season with Virginia Elite. My teammate, Julia, has continued to be there for me through all four years of my club experience and has always been my shoulder to cry on and my person to cry with. My teammates are my sisters and this club is my family. The love and support I have felt at Elite is unfathomable. I wouldn’t be here today without Elite. Virginia Elite is the definition of family and I couldn’t imagine myself playing for any other club. It would never be the same as Elite. Virginia Elite is the only club someone could call home.  

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