There may be nervous stomachs and restless nights ahead for some players, coaches and parents as the volleyball state tournament approaches this weekend. But the Longmont Trojans will bring a different perspective to Denver Coliseum.
One year removed from a run at the Class 4A state title, Holli Stetson’s Trojans are back again and in an even stronger position than they were last season.
But the upcoming matches and the intensity of the tournament pale in comparison to the challenges faced by Longmont’s Olivia Current, a senior teammate who is fighting leukemia and is scheduled for a bone-marrow transplant today.
The Trojans made it clear that they are playing for her.
“We always talk about how she has been the source of our inspiration for the whole year,” said senior Kelly Graham, who speaks on the phone with Current nearly every day. “We talk about how the battle she is waging and what she is going through is so, so much more important than anything we are doing with volleyball.”
Current’s situation has drawn the attention of some unexpected supporters.
Colorado Springs Christian School, a 3A volleyball powerhouse, contacted Stetson this week to offer its thoughts and prayers. The schools will become sister teams of sorts at the tournament, with CSCS players planning to write the name of a Longmont player on their wrists during the tournament, offering goody bags and praying for Current and all of the Trojans.
“It’s a very little thing that we’re doing,” CSCS coach Jennifer Evans said. “We’ve been to state nine years in a row and have always focused on the pressure we faced and things like that. This time we wanted to do something for someone else rather than for selfish reasons.”
Stetson and the Trojans were more than touched by the gesture.
“I was overwhelmed when she called me,” Stetson said. “They want to play for our team and pray for our team. It’s a wonderful gesture.”
Unfortunately, Current is not the only Trojan battling for her well-being. Sophomore C-team player Kaylee Adams has a liver disease that forced her to set aside volleyball and school as she works to get healthy again.
Current and Adams both will be recognized at a pep rally for the Trojan volleyball and football teams at LHS at 2:15 p.m. today.
“Part of our inspiration has been these two girls and that we’re playing for something much bigger than volleyball,” Stetson said.
OUT BUT NOT DOWN: With Longmont and Silver Creek both headed to state this weekend, one local team that was still reveling in its success this season despite being finished was Niwot.
Under second-year coach Chris Koerner, the Cougars finished 13-13, reaching the postseason for the first time since 2006. After finishing second at districts, the Cougars knocked off No. 8 Palisade at regionals but were eliminated with losses to Cheyenne Mountain and Roosevelt.
LEAVE A BALL BEHIND: USA Volleyball will be spearheading a Leave a Ball Behind campaign at the state tournament Friday and Saturday.
Fans are asked to donate gently used volleyballs signed with messages of hope and encouragement. The balls will be donated to underserved youth programs around the world, with a focus this year on Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti.
WINTER SPORTS FRIDAY: As the fall sports season winds down, the winter one gets rolling Friday.
That’s when practice may begin for boys and girls basketball, wrestling and girls swimming.