No question, the baseball season in LaFayette had a somber start after Head Coach Jerry Kelly's wife Mary Jo passed away in March after nearly a year-long battle with cancer.
Kelly says he thought about stepping aside for an extended period of time, or even for the season to mourn his loss, and quite frankly noone would've blamed him.
But that's not what Jerry did.
Showing courage in such a painful time Jerry stayed with the team after a brief absence saying "Deep down in my heart, I know my wife would've wanted me to"
The team is well aware of just how special it is that their coach stayed on to mentor them after what happened. In a show of support, the team along with parents got together and had Mary Jo's initials (MJK) sewn on their uniforms. A true sign of support when Jerry needed them the most.
"It means a lot, I mean Coach Kelly is great guy and he's been through a lot and so it's great to support him, support his family and dedicate this season to them" says Senior Shortstop Evan Terrell.
Logan Kinney adds "We all played together for so long, and we've all had Coach Kelly as one of our idols and we've always had him there to look up to so we really want to work hard for him"
From the parents' prospective, Lori Wheeler says it best "I feel that when we moved here...he took them (her kids) under his wing. So I felt that in return that I could return the favor to him and his family."
The team was indoors one day for practice, and Coach Kelly was unaware of the dedication to his wife, that was, until he opened those gymnasium doors.
"I was away for nearly a week, and they pulled out the jerseys with her initials on them and I just had to walk out of the gym. I couldn't stand there. It's meant to so much to me, it's meant so much to my family. The support I've gotten from these kids. They also know when they put those initials on their jerseys that it stands for something very important to me."
Perhaps, this sign of solidarity and unity will carry the Lancers to new heights. The team hopes to capture a league championship. Whether or not they achieve that goal remains to be seen. Regardless of how the team does, undoubtedly, Mary-Jo will be with them every step of the way.