Girls’ Basketball Team Rebounds after Tragic Loss

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Jacob Sonne, Sports Editor

Tragedy stuck over the summer for the girls basketball team when upcoming senior Sofie Vasquez was involved in a fatal car accident during a family trip to California. Her death has had a major impact on this year’s team and many of the student body.

The week of the incident the team was putting on a basketball camp for local youth. Sofie let her coach know that she would not be there to help out with camp on Thursday.

“I remember pulling up Thursday morning thinking ‘Sofie’s not going to be here.’ I really did think about her that morning,” head coach Anne Jones said. “We finished up camp and I was at home and I got a phone call in the afternoon, and it said that Sofie’s family had been in an accident near southern Utah and Sofie had been killed at the scene.”

After receiving the devastating news, Jones reached out to her assistant coaches, split up the team, and each told a few players what had happened. Amid the tears and anguish of losing a teammate and friend, the team got together to do something for the Vasquez family.

“That night we got together as a team and we went to her house and tied white balloons and messages there before the family got home,” Jones said.

Sofie was a person who was very loved by her teammates and had a special and unique bond with everyone. Senior Lindsey Reich pointed out that there was definitely a mood change the week following the news.

In the event of a death within a team, there is an uphill battle that the team must fight to overcome their grief. In Sofie’s situation the hill was steeper than normal. The team was not only losing a key contributor on the court; Sofie was the glue that held the team together off the court and someone one could always turn to for a smile.

“Whenever anybody was in a bad mood [they would] just always go to Sofie. She was just so happy all the time and smiling,” senior Sussan Vallejo said. “She just brought your mood up, and her smile was just contagious.”

Her leadership and happiness cannot be put into words that justify what Sofie meant to this team.

“One thing I remember was she was just always a friend to every single person,” senior Keeley Stringham said. “Especially the people that don’t have the most friends, she will always go and include them.”

Sofie was such a vibrant and lively person that it even through her coach off.

“Her sophomore year she always had this big grin on her face and I said to one of my assistants, ‘I’m not sure I really quite know how to read her, she’s always smiling,’” Jones said.

As Jones continued to coach and get to know Sofie, she was able to notice a unique quality in her. While she was bright, shiny and happy on the outside, she was a fierce competitor when practice and game time came.

“You always have certain things you’re looking forward to each season, and for me it was seeing Sofie blossom,” Jones said. “She was getting better every practice and every game, and you could see her athletic ability starting to take over, she was becoming a better basketball player.”

In reaction to losing a friend and teammate like that, the team has done a few things to remember her. The team is wearing yellow warm up shirts to represent her bright attitude that say “#smileforsof” on the backs. At the first game of the year the team honored the family and brought them down to halfcourt in their #smileforsof shirts and had a moment of silence.

The family has remained involved with the team and still comes to games to support that part of Sofie’s life that she cared so much about.

It has now been about six months since Sofie passed and the team is still mending the holes left by her loss. However each individual has learned through this experience and is making an effort to live a little more like Sofie.

“What I’ve learned is that it’s important to be friends with everyone and be a team, be a family and don’t leave anyone out,” Reich said. “Just love everyone.”

It is hard to think of a more fitting legacy that Sofie could have left.