By Raiza Giorgi

The key to being a Pirate player is having heart and giving back to the community, according to Santa Ynez Valley Union High School football head coach Josh McClurg. 

“It’s about community first and helping others in our area that support us so much. Cancer affects everyone in some way, and now it is directly affecting two of our players families,” McClurg said. 

At the game on Friday, Oct. 5 against Santa Barbara High School, the Pirates will wear pink socks in recognition of Cancer Awareness Month. Both Junior Varsity and Varsity will wear pink. 

There will also be a fundraising raffle and bake sale with all of the proceeds going to the two players family’s. 

“We thought instead of donating the funds to research, why not help directly at home,” McClurg said. 

Both families affected have players on the junior varsity team. Players Luke Deppmeier lost his mother Jen to bladder cancer this past spring, and Kenny Callahan’s mother Jill Callahan is currently battling colorectal cancer. 

“I was diagnosed in February of this year and I am on my second round of chemotherapy. The amount of love and support we have received from this valley has been amazing,” Callahan said. 

She works as a massage therapist at Spa Elan in Los Olivos and sent her clients an email when she found out saying she would be in and out. The response of meals, cards, flowers and support has been overwhelmingly positive she said. 

“Watching Kenny every Friday has been our outlet and something we look forward to each week. I love watching my son play, it’s been a great experience,” she added. 

“Go Pink Night is a very meaningful tradition for our football family as players, coaches, and fans honor all women and men who are fighting cancer, and to remember those special to us who have fought the battle and have lost,” McClurg said. 

Former coach Carl Rio lost his battle with cancer two years ago and McClurg said this year they want to make an extra effort for his players to support their families as well. 

Santa Ynez High School Football Boosters will hold the raffle at the game which prizes include a Pirate football helmet signed by all the players, a custom-made Pirate Flag metal art by Cowdog Custom Metalworks, a hemp travel bag by Datsusara, and a bake sale. All of the proceeds from the fundraising effort are going to two of the Pirates football players and their families. 

If you are interested in making a donation, contact the SYHS Football Boosters at or visit