For as long as they can remember, whether they knew it or not, the seniors on the Juneau-Douglas High School girls soccer team were playing for teammate Dorothy Brent.
Even when they were in the third and fourth grades and their team was called the Storm.
“She never let us not play,” they said. “She was so intimidating, even in third grade.”
Crimson Bears’ seniors Solana Ashe, Rebekah Badilla, Sidney Browning, Kiera Clark, Cassidy Davenport, Anna Gregovich, Chrish Newell, Marlena Sloss, and Krista Thomson wanted their quotes to come as one voice.
“She kept things positive,” they said. “She never let us feel down.”
As their Storm-sized shoes grew and the club team name became the Two Steppers in ninth grade, Brent was still the passionate one.
“She always made us work hard in practice,” they said. “Any practice. You couldn’t let her down. But she always kept things positive, she never let us feel down.”
On Wednesday night at Adair Kennedy Field, the Crimson Bears and the Thunder Mountain Falcons played on the pitch for cancer awareness, and for Dorothy Brent.
Their senior teammate has been following the Crimson Bears’ season as best she can, between chemotherapy treatments in Seattle, a city far from the soccer pitch at Adair Kennedy.
“There is something missing,” they said. “But there is something with us all the time. We try to channel her passions. We miss her presence on and off the field, and in the van... She constantly makes us laugh.”
The seniors share laughs and remembrances and hopes. Dorothy’s jersey is clutched among them. They are a team. The number 16 was Dorothy’s from Storm days up through high school. It was to be her number again this year, before the pain and a visit to the doctor and the diagnosis. No one will wear the number until Dorothy slips it on again.
“She always gave 100 percent,” they said. “She has this aggressiveness that no one can match. She is the most athletic person we know.”
On the pitch the Crimson Bears and Falcons play. JDHS uniforms are lavender for cancer awareness, TMHS socks are lavender, and the referee’s flags are lavender.
“It is a great opportunity to show our community spirit,” TMHS coach Kris Coffee said. “We are community first and soccer players second.”
On the chain link fence surrounding the field the Juneau chapter of the American Cancer Society has placed plastic cups to read “JD VS TM = HOPE!”
At the gate are handouts and information.
But literature is meaningless without a team, without a face, without a number 16 running at break-neck speed against the opposition.
“Foul discreetly,” they said. “That is Dorothy’s motto.”
Seasons are to be shared. Trips through the panhandle and north. Tournaments. Late night gatherings and sleepovers. There is a lot to miss about Dorothy.
“Her dance moves,” they said. “Her fouling. And she is real touchy-feely. She gets real excited about things.”
The game ends Wednesday night with the Crimson Bears leading 7-0. It would be remiss to not say who scored. It is a game, and Dorothy would have played it hard... and she would have shook the hands of the Falcons just as enthusiastically.
In the first half Chrish Newell throws into a crowd and the game’s Hard Hat selection Katie McKeown kicks it in. In the second half a corner kick is left out front and Browning kicks it in. McKeown scores again off an Ashe corner. Badilla scores off an Ord corner. Ashe scores unassisted on a break-a-way. Ord scores on a through ball. Gregovich scores off a Kymber Kelly corner.
The Falcons played hard. The Crimson Bears played hard. Dorothy Brent would have played hard.
“Soccer has definitely been a great experience for me,” Brent said from Seattle. “I have developed a bond with those girls (and coaches) that doesn’t compare to anything else. My four years has been a great experience as part of that team. I wish I could have played. The game was for a good cause and I am sure the Falcons held their heads up and walked off that field proud. They have brought awareness of cancer to the community and that is greater than any score, I want to thank them.”
The season ends soon. Friday night is the JDHS girl’s soccer senior night against Ketchikan. The game begins at 6:45 p.m., the senior appreciation will be held before the game starts. In a perfect world, on a perfect pitch, Dorothy Brent would be wearing her number 16.
“Even if it is just women’s league or club,” Brent said. “Or Parks and Rec., I can’t wait to get back and just play with those girls again. Those girls are a big part of my life and they have definitely changed my high school experience.”
Following are facts and statements provided by the Juneau branch of the American Cancer Society and their “Paint The Town Purple” youth cancer awareness program:
We are making great progress in the fight against childhood cancer. For example, the 5-year survival rates for all childhood cancers combined increased from 58.1 percent in 1975-77 to 79.6 percent in 1996-2003. This improvement in survival rates is due to significant advances in treatment, resulting in a cure or long-term remission for a substantial proportion of children with cancer.
30 childhood cancer survivors from Alaska attended Camp Goodtimes last year, a weeklong ACS camp for children with cancer. This camp is funded by donations to ACS like the ones raised thru Relay!
In the United States approximately 10,400 children under age 15 are diagnosed with cancer each year and about 1,545 children will die from the disease. Although this makes cancer the leading cause of death among U.S. children 1 – 14 years of age, cancer is still relatively rare in this age group. On average, 1 to 2 children develop the disease each year for every 10,000 children in the United States.
From a cancer survivor, age 26, in Anchorage, AK:
The life of a cancer survivor in numbers -
24 – age when I was first diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most common and most aggressive type of primary brain tumor in humans.
180 – number of days I was told I had left to live.
730 – days (and counting) I have survived cancer.
99 – number of blood transfusions I have received in that time.
19.2 number of miles I ran in the 2009 Mayor’s Marathon.
54,000 - number of air miles I have traveled for treatment.
3 – number of clinical trials that have extended my life.
25 – number of times I have been skydiving since my diagnosis.
22 – cycles of chemotherapy I have undergone.
2 – number of birthdays I have celebrated since my diagnosis that I was not supposed to have.
The American Cancer Society in Numbers:
1 in 3 – number of people who will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
4,033 – number of visits made by Alaska state residents to www.cancer.org last month for information and resources.
50 – the percentage drop in youth smoking rates in Alaska over the past decade, thanks to ACS’s efforts in comprehensive tobacco control.
1,115 – number of newly diagnosed patients and caregivers our American Cancer Society Patient Navigator served last year with personalized cancer information, transportation and lodging assistance and referrals to community support programs.
627,000 – number of dollars the American Cancer Society granted Dr. Melany Cueva at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to study cancer in Alaska Natives and develop better tools for reaching out to Alaska Native cultures with messages of prevention and early detection.
107 – number of trips transporting Alaskan cancer patients to treatment last month by American Cancer Society Road to Recovery volunteers and other transportation programs.
3,640 – number of Alaskans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year.
46 – number of American Cancer Society researchers who have won the Nobel Prize and contributed to discoveries like the mammogram and pap smear, drugs like Gleevac, Tamoxifen and Herceptin, the development of the bone marrow transplant and the mapping of the human genome.
Also, youth smoking rates in Alaska have dropped 50% in the past decade thanks to our tobacco cessation efforts.
From Sarah Robinson, District Executive Director, American Cancer Society:
The burden of cancer weighs heavily on our state.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Alaska. This year alone, 3,640 Alaskans will be diagnosed with cancer and another 930 Alaskans will lose their battle to a disease that has taken too many. And while the overall cancer death rate in our country has been declining, cancer death rates for Alaska Natives have increased.
At the American Cancer Society, we are working every day to change those devastating odds.
As the nation’s largest private funder of cancer research, the Society has long been at the forefront of the scientific battle against this disease, leading the way to a tomorrow with better treatments, new early detection tests, and more cures.
Today, the hopeful side of cancer has never been more promising. Most people survive the disease and there are now 12 million cancer survivors in the United States alone.
The American Cancer Society also provides ordinary people with extraordinary opportunities to fight back against cancer. The Society’s 3 million passionate volunteers help save lives, rallying communities around the world to join this fight through programs such as our Cancer Resource Centers and Relay For Life and by working with lawmakers to make America a healthier place to live.