Amanda Bickford’s Big NightNovember 8, 2013
by Jacob Gagnon
Amanda Bickford had earned this moment. It was the kind of accomplishment that made the long nights sweating in a gymnasium in those seemingly endless hours of practice worth it. It was the kind of accomplishment that made those countless thoughts about upcoming matches and opponents on sleepless nights worthwhile. On Saturday night, November 2, Bickford had claimed her 500th dig as a Blue Devil.
It was the quarterfinal round of the 2013 Division I Girls Volleyball Championship Tournament and the Salem High team had just defeated Nashua North High School, three sets to two, to advance into the next round of the playoffs. Bickford, as she had done all season long, played an integral part in her team’s victory.
“She’s been a captain, a leader and the energy and go-to person to bring them all together as one,” said Head Volleyball Coach John Roemer.
“It was definitely a big step into that leadership role and just trying to lead the team and keep the younger players up,” said Bickford. “I think I’ve done an OK job for now.”
But Bickford has been more than OK as a leader both on and off the court. “She does a lot of stuff with the community. She spearheaded the Dig Pink game,” said Roemer. “She did a lot for us within the community.”
Bickford, as she has done since her freshman year at Salem High School, participated in the Salem Community Caregivers Walk. She also got a few of her teammates to join her on the 5K Walk and earned donations for the Community Caregivers. “It was just a great time walking and doing something for a good cause. It’s been a great tradition,” said Bickford.
When October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, rolled around, Bickford thought it was obvious what her team needed to do. Last season, the Blue Devils hosted a successful “Dig Pink” game where all donations and concessions sold went to Breast Cancer Awareness as players, coaches and fans donned pink shirts in support of the cause.
Bickford contacted Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a nation-wide breast cancer organization, and received donation cards that she and her teammates sold throughout the high school and community. Salem created a “Wall of Hope,” where students and staff members could place their name or the name of loved ones affected by cancer on their donation card which were hung on the wall. For the game, Bickford and the team brought in concessions and foods that were sold during the match to add to the donation total.
“I really wanted to do a Dig Pink game because it meant a lot to me,” said Bickford. “It’s just a great cause. We raised over about $600 for Susan G. Komen.”
Where did this urge to continually give back to her community come from? Bickford is not quite sure. It could be from her family, or her former and current teammates. All she does know is that it is a wonderful thing to do. “It’s my home. You just want to give back. I went to the Boys and Girls club so I help out there too,” said Bickford. “Helping out in the community is just a great thing to me.”
On the court, Bickford is still focused on the task ahead for the Blue Devils. There is nothing they could want more than to follow their male volleyball counterparts by repeating as NHIAA Division I Champions. “We have to stick together as a team. We can’t be nervous. We just have to come prepared,” said Bickford.
Next year, Bickford will be playing softball and possibly volleyball collegiately as she has already committed to St. Anselm College. There is little doubt, however, that Bickford will return to help her community just as she had throughout her tremendous high school career.
But that is next year. Right now, Bickford is back on the Blue Devil’s court, basking in the adulation of her home crowd, following the announcement of her milestone. The Salem community that she has given so much to is giving back to her, as they applaud and cheer. The moment is hers. After all, she had earned it.