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Shanahan, Rustin ready to take it outside for special volleyball game

Plenty of local teams have used their games for charity purposes. But Bishop Shanahan has come up with, perhaps, the most unique idea.

The Eagles, and volleyball coach Greg Ashman, will take their game outside on Saturday, and there won’t be a beach in sight.

In a first in the state of Pennsylvania, Shanahan will host West Chester Rustin on a makeshift court at Jack Mancini Stadium. First serve is set for 7 p.m..

The event, coined “Spikes at Night Under the Lights” will benefit Unite for Her in their continual battle with breast cancer.

Much like how a scout comes to an event to look at one person, and someone else stands out, Ashman stumbled upon the inspiration for his idea.

“A few years ago, I was looking for something else, and stumbled upon a school out in the Midwest playing outdoors,” said Ashman. “The atmosphere looked electric. I thought that was a great idea and wanted to do it here at Shanahan.”

Ashman said the athletic department, especially AD Ron Reidinger, was enthusiastic about the idea. The school administration was a little more cautious.

“They were concerned about player safety and what it will do to the turf. I understand that, since they just put it in,” said Ashman. “But, now, they’re all behind it.”

Ashman said he wanted to do it last year, but couldn’t find an opponent available. The fact that it is a Ches-Mont game may be a little unusual, but Rustin, coached by former Shanahan assistant Harry Bitzberger, stepped in and helped out.

“We were casting about for a game and Greg and I talked about playing,” said Bitzberger. “I talked to the team, and they were fine with it. We then had to go to the athletic director and get permission.”

Saturday will be a long day for everyone connected to the Shanahan volleyball program.

The court, which will be built by parents with construction experience, and other volunteers, will begin taking shape early Saturday morning.

The one major concern is, of course, the weather. Rain is expected to hang around until Saturday, but may vacate in time for the game.

“Oh, yeah,” said Ashman when asked if he would be watching the Weather Channel constantly. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

The team had a run-through Sunday to get a feel for the conditions. For Rustin, Bitzberger indicated a little looser approach.

“We’re going to wing it,” he said. “We’ll do the best we’ll can.”

With events like the NHL’s Winter Classic and the NCAA playing a game on an aircraft carrier, taking a traditionally indoor game outdoors has taken on a certain mystique that both coaches are counseling their players to embrace and enjoy.

“I’ve spoken to the girls about how they should be excited about playing in that kind of atmosphere, and they should embrace it,” said Bitzberger.

Even though Downingtown East has a home football game at the same time at Kottmeyer Stadium, Ashman is hoping for solid support from the Shanahan and Downingtown communities. Even though the first game isn’t in the books yet. Ashman said he would love if it ended up being an annual event.

The day’s activities will begin with a CYO Region 17 all-star game at 4 p.m., followed by the JVs, then the varsity at 7 p.m. A $5 donation wil be collected, and fans are encouraged to wear pink.

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