KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Hardin Valley Middle School students are swinging hard for a good cause at the 2nd Annual American Heart Association Eclipse Ball Tournament

“It means a lot to me because I know that it’s all going to a good cause, and it just excites me to see everybody playing and having fun,” said Kendall Johnson, a seventh-grade student.  

Eclipse Ball is a game that combines volleyball and badminton with minimal rules. Teams of sixth, seventh and eighth graders took over the gym on Thursday, March 9, hitting the ball back and forth over the net. 

“We just try to get them to do something fun to move because also what I’ve noticed is students that really get nervous about being in P.E., they absolutely love this game, and they were one of the first groups to sign up, people you never expect would want to play,” said Cathy Lyons, physical education teacher at Hardin Valley Middle School. 

Lyons introduced the tournament last year to help raise money for the American Heart Association. It’s a cause close to competitors’ hearts because several family members have struggled with their heart health. 

“I never really understood how real it was until this year. It did hit close to home so after that, I definitely wanted to start raising money for the cause,” said Bo Caldwell, an eighth-grade student. 

Lyons bumped up this year’s fundraising goal to $5,000. 

A team of seventh graders called the Golden Girls is on a mission to pay it forward to their classmates and community. 

“I like caring for other people and like helping other people out,” said Aubrey Bauer, a seventh-grade student. 

Lyons says the tournament is a great way to encourage friendly competition and reinforce the positive school culture at Hardin Valley Middle School. 

At the last check, the school was 99% of the way to its fundraising goal.