Heart and Hustle: Triton Cobras Find Inspiration Through Loss

December 01, 2017 10:58 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- A local basketball team is finding a new purpose to play.

Triton High School's new girl's basketball head coach wants two things from her players on the hardwood: heart and hustle.


"Heart and hustle, that really sets us apart as a team," said Coach Melissa Young.  Young and her daughter Taylor -- number 24 -- moved to Triton this fall from Nicollet, just northwest from Mankato, where the two also were a part of the Nicollet Raiders basketball team.

Last week they returned to their former school, to say goodbye to one of their own.

"I miss Heather with all of my heart," said Taylor Young.

Heather Giefer was just 13 years old when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  She received treatment at Mayo Clinic and earlier this month she passed away at the age of 16.

"I visited her about three weeks before she passed away and you would have no idea what she was going through from the way she acted,” said Taylor, “and all she said was that she wished she could play (basketball) one last time."

On or off the court you become a family.  As a tribute, Taylor and her new Triton teammates showed their love and support on Twitter with a picture of the team forming a heart with their legs and filling that heart with basketballs.

"It’s really hard for people to relate, but Paris can and that’s really helpful to have someone in my corner,” said Taylor.  Paris Ellingson, a Triton guard on the team, knows exactly what Taylor is going through experiencing the loss of her niece to a brain tumor too.

"Ever since Sofia passed away, like basketball was my sport and I would go on the court and think about Sofia because even though she couldn't do these things, she'd always push herself, so that’s why I go on the court and play for her,” said Ellingson.

Understanding that basketball is more than just a game.

"Looking at what those two went through, how lucky it is to lace up your shoes, and how lucky to put on your jerseys and how lucky you are to run out on the court because even if you are not necessarily getting into the game, you're a part of a team."

A team, with love at its core.


Chad Corey and Laura Lee

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