By Michael Bower
Volleyball has been a huge part of Cassidy Lichtman’s life and now the USA National Team member is hoping to pass on her knowledge to kids all across California, while giving to charity.
Lichtman, a Poway native, will be holding the first of what she hopes to be many “Play with a Purpose” volleyball clinics Saturday at Canyon Crest Academy from 2 - 4:30 p.m. for boys and girls in the seventh grade and up. Cost is $40 per person and all skill levels are welcome.
“This is the first clinic that I will be fully in charge of,” said Lichtman, who will be donating 100 percent of the funds raised to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. “If it goes well, then I will keep on doing it. It seems like a win-win to me. Kids can learn something and it will help other people.”
Lichtman, who recently returned to the area after playing volleyball overseas in Switzerland, also has clinics lined up in Los Angeles, Anaheim and Ontario in April. The Francis Parker High graduate and two-time First-Team All-American at Stanford hopes to have one in the Bay Area, too.
“I knew I always wanted to do something to help out,” she said. “Volleyball is kind of my life and I learned from the best coaches out there so I feel like I have a lot of knowledge to pass on.”
Lichtman said she has always wanted to work with a charity. The fact she is donating all the proceeds to Ronald McDonald House Charities, which “provides families stability and resources so they can keep their child healthy and happy” stems back to what she learned in her childhood.
She was taught to give back and she went through some tough times physically.
“When I was 9, I woke up one morning and couldn’t walk because my leg hurt and nobody really knew why,” she said. “They tried to treat it and diagnose it, but nothing worked.”
Lichtman was on crutches for seven months and doctors told her she was never going to walk again. But she powered through the pain and started walking and playing volleyball. She continues to fight through the pain to this day.
“It hurts all the time,” she said. “The more activity I do the worse it gets. They have tried lots of treatments and they have all pretty much failed. Now it is just a matter of how much pain I want to take.”
Lichtman played for the San Diego Volleyball Club in 4S Ranch from the time she was 10 until she graduated from Francis Parker in 2007.
She realized throughout her time as a youngster there was no connection with the USA National Team and that is something she hopes to change.
“Even now, I have been training right here in Southern California where all these great players are playing and we have no contact with them,” she said. “They don’t know who we are or what we are doing.”
Lichtman’s staff will be made up of volunteers ranging from other national team coaches and players to college coaches and club coaches. The gyms she will be using for these clinics are donating their space.
“Anything I can do to share the love of the game with younger players is a plus,” she said. “On top of that, being able to help kids that are dealing with medical issues and help lighten their burden is a bonus.”
For more information on the “Play with a Purpose” clinics or to register, email Cassidy Lichtman at email@example.com.