September 27th, 2019
Rose tennis team remembers Upton
MON. | 10-25-21 | NEWS
SAT. | 10-10-20 | NEWS
The Rose tennis teams hosted their annual Liz Upton Memorial Ball Drop Event on Oct. 20 in hopes to raise money for the Benefitting Strides Against Breast Cancer and the Liz Upton Student Scholarship Fund.
“We [had] snacks, fun, everyone [wore] pink and people [came] to play tennis,” Women’s Tennis Assistant Coach Andrew Pierce said. “Usually the guy and girl teams will come out to play, but it’s more like a fun event where people can come out and celebrate… and help raise money.”
Except for last year, due to COVID, the women's tennis team has hosted their annual ball drop fundraiser in honor of their former head coach of 26 seasons and 28-year Rose Physical Education teacher, Elizabeth (Liz) Upton. They started this fundraiser before Upton sadly lost her battle to breast cancer in the summer of 2017. The tennis team had hosted this event for two years before Upton passed away, but afterward, they dedicated the event to her honor.
Photo contributed by Rampant Lines Archive
Upton was a beloved Rose faculty member for 28 years and even earned the nickname “Ma Upton”. She was known to have an open door policy with her office, and students would frequently come by to discuss their current life problems over cookies. She was known to be a mother figure to many students around Rose, and left a lasting imprint on the school.
In this fundraiser, any person, even if not a tennis player or parent, can buy five dollar raffle tickets from women’s tennis team members in order to enter the ball drop. Their ticket number is then written on a tennis ball and during the fundraiser, all of the balls are loaded onto a bucket truck and dropped on the tennis court. A hula-hoop is placed on the tennis court before the balls are dropped, and the tennis ball that lands closest to the center of the hula-hoop correlates with the winning ticket. That person then wins half of the raffle money, which in the past has been up to 2,500 dollars.
Before the money is split in half for the 50-50 raffle, the tennis team will take out 500 dollars for the Liz Upton Student Scholarship Fund. This is a 500 dollar grant given to a senior on the women’s tennis team to help pay for college.
“The coaches pick a senior tennis player who best represents Rose High School and the values that go along with Rose High School,” Pierce said. “They are then awarded the Liz Upton Scholarship.”
Most winners have chosen to give the $1000 in prize money back to the school to use in the donation to the American Cancer Society.
“There is a 50-50 raffle and all years but two, the person who won has given the money back to the school [for the American Cancer Society],” Pierce said.
Before the tennis balls are dropped, there is a free period of one to two hours where those participating in the fundraiser have time to hit around and play some tennis.
“We open the tennis courts up to anyone for about an hour or two and we just have a lot of fun,” Pierce said.
This event takes weeks of planning and fundraising from the women’s tennis team in order to happen. Each player is required to sell 25 tickets. Players resort to social media or family members in order to get their tickets sold, but knowing it is for a great cause helps players get their tickets bought.
“They are responsible for selling their 25 tickets, but we have had times where people have bought 20 tickets just because they know it’s going to a good cause,” Pierce said.
The fundraiser serves as a bonding experience for the team.
“Obviously, raising money [is a benefit], but I think it also helps bring the team closer because we spend a lot of time preparing for it,” junior tennis player Lily Walker said.
The tennis team continues to honor their departed head coach through the annual Liz Upton Memorial Ball Drop Event.