Senior Kenzie Silva serving up a dime for the Lady Steers during the “Dig Pink” celebration at Magdalena schools.
Greg Byrd | El Defensor Chieftain photos


The Magdalena Steers hosted its annual “Dig Pink” fundraiser for breast cancer, volleyball tournament, and this time they were able to have a packed house of fans for the event. It was a battle against the visiting Alamo Navajo Lady Cougars with the Lady Steers narrowly sneaking away with a 15-8 fifth set victory.

“This is always a really fun evening,” Athletic Director Jory Mirabal said. “The girls and the coaches always put a lot of work into this. They always raise a ton of money for a good cause and coming off of a year in which we couldn’t do this it’s so great to see everyone out here tonight.”

Magdalena music teacher Catherine Barela singing the national anthem in front of a packed house.

Support from the community was strong before players took to the net. Head coach Sara Sue Olney was busy setting up tables, while students and teacher were putting up signs in the gym. A variety of baked goods was available for auction, along with a private dinner at Tumbleweeds restaurant. Proceeds went to those struggling with breast cancer, as well as to help for recovering survivors.

“All of my varsity girls made these items,” Olney said. “We’ve got Mrs. Mirabal’s famous cinnamon rolls available. Whatever money we can raise to support breast cancer awareness is our goal as Steers.”

To kick off the evening, the two junior high squads came out for a showdown, pinks versus white. The “A” and “B” teams were taking things on the court seriously with Pink winning the third and final set 15-9.

After that, the Alamo team and its fans started to pour into the stadium. School Counselor Theresa Lumos set up outside the court to raise money by selling “poison,” a popular item in high schools around the country. To create “poison” attendees are able to purchase fun items before entering the gym. Those items are then mixed in kool-aide and the customers’ choice of hot sauce.

“The kids had to teach me about this,” Lumos said. “I had to learn about this trend myself, but hopefully it helps us raise some money for a good cause.”

Alamo’s JV girls arrived ready to compete. The Lady Steers came out hot in the first set 7-1 thanks to some big serves. The Lady Cougars refused to give up, making it a four-point game before going down by six in the first set.

The varsity team got pumped before hitting the floor as its JV squad hammered the Lady Steers at the net towards a 25-23 2nd set win. Alamo finished things off 15-11.

From there it was time for the big game to begin. The football and basketball players filled the student section of the court as the Lady Steers took to the floor wearing matching bright green sneakers. K-12 Magdalena music teacher Catherine Barela came out to sing the national anthem before the evening showdown.

The junior Magdalena Steers crew were more than happy to give out prizes during the silent auction for a good cause.

Magdalena started off hot with three straight points before Lady Cougars junior Hailey Apachito responded with a calculated hit at the net that got the visiting team on the board. After tying things up at 5-5, the Lady Steers said no thank you to a close first set as they ran away with things, thanks to great play from senior Ella Ganadonegro and sophomore Lilliana Vega.

The second set was full of long back and forth volleys. The student section chanted “MHS” in unison. An overshot by Lady Cougars junior Koolonna Apachito had the Magdalena crowd roaring and the boys bringing out the brooms.

Not so fast said Alamo. The Lady Cougars refused to go away in the third set. Magdalena players like junior Irene Martinez were diving for the teams life in the back court as Alamo was bombarding the Lady Steers. The same thing happened in the fourth with Alamo winning close 26-24 to force the final fifth set.

The evening ended with the Lady Steers rallying together. Senior Jonnie Willie had multiple plays at the net to finish things off 15-8.

Despite the loss, Alamo head coach Danielle Gordon was in high spirits with her players after the game.

“Our players played so good,” she said. “They put in a huge effort tonight and that’s all I could ask from them as a coach. What I saw was tough play from us on every serve.”

Next up for the Magdalena Lady Steers is an away game against Hondo Valley on October 21. Alamo Navajo has a home game against Vaughn for a 1 p.m. afternoon game on October 22.

1A 3 District Standings:

  1. Magdalena; 3-0, 5-7 overall.
  2. Carrizozo; 2-1, 7-8 overall.
  3. Alamo Navajo; 2-1, 5-8 overall.