Published on -10/16/2012, 10:25 AM
By CONOR NICHOLL
QUINTER -- Quinter High School volleyball coach Katie Blackwill called this fall "kind of a roller-coaster."
Karen Harvey, the mother of Marissa Harvey, a senior volleyball and basketball player and cheerleader, had battled breast cancer. The team sold pink shirts as a fundraiser for the Harvey family that read: "Our Hero, Karen Harvey, Volleyball 2012." On Thursday, Karen Harvey, 47 and mother of four daughters, died.
"That is something that is hard to deal with and your heart goes out to that family, losing a mom that young," Blackwill said. "It's also helped us to pull together as a team."
After an emotional week, Quinter remembered Harvey in several ways in Friday's 50-26 home football loss to Atwood-Rawlins County. The team talked about Harvey in its pregame devotional. The Bulldogs also wore pink shoelaces.
"She is perfected," football coach Greg Woolf said. "We are not perfected yet."
Many fans and students wore the pink T-shirts. Before the game, the seniors came to the track and released pink and white balloons to remember Harvey. Woolf said before Harvey passed, she asked Marissa to still take a test Thursday.
"That just carries with the kids," Woolf said. "They understand that, so I think that's why the kids came out and played well and they have been through a lot.
"The kids understand what we try to teach them here in the locker room, that things like that happen in life," he added. "I think that they are going to surround that family, and I think that the community is going to surround that family and have love for them and remember what Karen did and how she continued on in her fight."
The volleyball team has had an up-and-down year and entered Saturday's Northwest Kansas League tournament with a 12-15 record. On Thursday, the squad went to the visitation.
"When we got back to the gym, I had some quotes for them and I talked to them and I gave them the day off," Blackwill said. "I said, 'Go home, today is your day to grieve, and then come ready for practice (Friday).' We practiced (Friday) morning and we had a very good vibe. I felt like it was probably the best it has been for a long time. It's definitely hard to handle everything."
The football team has just three seniors: end Chance Smith and linemen Braden Evans and Brandon Kerns. On Thursday, Woolf let the seniors go with their class to the visitation for Karen. The rest of the team had a short walk-through and then went over as well.
After Friday's contest, Woolf -- who battled non-Hodgkins lymphoma through the Bulldogs' Eight-Man, Division I state championship season in 2009 -- thought back to being with Harvey at a recent Walk for Life.
"Karen was a unique person," Woolf said. "... I knew and she knew that she was going, and that this was probably going to be her last year. And so I got to walk with her and talk with her for a little bit, and she was fine. But she understood where she was, and it was interesting."