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Juniata women's volleyball to retire Erin Dodson's number 12

(Posted October 23, 2008)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The Juniata College women's volleyball program will retire the number 12 formerly worn by outside hitter Erin Dodson (Altoona, Pa./Altoona), during a ceremony prior to Juniata's home match against Washington & Lee on Friday, Oct. 24, 2008.

Dodson, a two-time First team All-State player from Altoona High School, played in four matches for Juniata at the start of the 2004 season. She recorded 14 kills and 16 digs with four services and four blocks over those four matches, including eight kills in a 3-2 loss to eighth-ranked Wittenberg University.

Dodson will be the first former Juniata athlete to have his or her playing number retired.

Former women's volleyball player Carolyn Stambaugh; former student-athlete, coach, and athletic director Bill Berrier; and former football player Joe Kershishnik have all been honored by Juniata College with retired jerseys, but none has officially had their former playing number permanently retired from all further use in their respective sports.

"Erin was certainly a terrific volleyball player, but more than that she has found a way to positively impact our teams here and Juniata since her playing days were so brutally interrupted," said Juniata head coach Larry Bock. "She'll remain a legend as a player, a teammate and as an amazing human being. This should be a really neat ceremony and our team and volleyball alums hope the Juniata and surrounding communities will be in Memorial Gym at 7:00 to help honor our last #12, Erin Dodson."

Dodson will be in attendance for Friday night's game against Washington & Lee, and will be presented with a framed number 12 jersey. A copy of Dodson's number 12 jersey will also be framed and displayed in the east entrance to the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center, alongside the jerseys of Stambaugh, Berrier, and Kershishnik.

After suffering from a headache that would not go away during the first few weeks of preseason and classes in August and September 2004, Dodson was eventually diagnosed with a primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET) - a highly malignant brain tumor.

While awaiting surgery, the tumor hemorrhaged and she had emergency surgery on Sept. 11, 2004, just seven days after playing her fourth - and what would prove to be final - match as a student-athlete at Juniata College. After undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments for nearly a year, she returned to Juniata as a student for the Fall 2005 semester.

During Juniata's 2004 national championship run, members of the women's volleyball team wore armbands displaying Dodson's number 12. Dodson made the trip to Rochester, Minn., for the national semifinals and championship game, and her role with the team was a central focus of CBS Sports when it covered the team for its "Fall Championships of the NCAA" special, which aired that winter.

Dodson had additional surgeries on Sept. 25, 2007, and Tuesday, March 20, 2008, at the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., after MRIs revealed that the cancer had returned.

A recent MRI has revealed two additional cancerous nodules near the location of her original tumor, and Dodson is scheduled to have surgery in the coming weeks.

Also scheduled to be in attendance on Friday will be several members of the 2004 Juniata women's volleyball team, which won the school's first NCAA national championship, as well as Erin's parents Michelle and Bernie Dodson.

Friday night's game against Washington & Lee will also be "Dig Pink Night" for breast cancer awareness at the Kennedy Sports + Recreation Center. Juniata will wear special pink jerseys for the game against the Generals, and several other promotional activities will take place to raise money and promote awareness of cancer in general, and breast cancer in particular.

"Dig Pink Night" is being organized by the members of the Juniata women's volleyball team, with the help of the Side Out Foundation. The Side Out Foundation raises funds for breast cancer research through volleyball-related activities.

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.