PROSPER (CBSDFW.COM) – After experiencing personal tragedy and the thrill of victory just days apart, the Forney High School softball team’s roller coaster efforts to win a state championship fell short Saturday when they lost the regional finals to The Colony.
Despite the outcome both teams have learned powerful lessons about overcoming adversity.
As they have for the last several games, Forney fans packed the bleachers wearing shirts that pay tribute to #6 Emily Galiano. The freshman outfielder died last week in a car accident after a team dinner.
Across the stands The Colony’s fans wore tributes of their own in the form of pink ribbons honoring head coach Deana Coleman.
“From the beginning of the year I was worried that they were going to be distracted ’cause of what’s going on with me,” Coleman said.
Doctors diagnosed Coach Coleman with breast cancer shortly before the softball season began. Since then the team has seen her struggle.
“I don’t ever expect you to quit. That’s why when people are like, ‘I cannot believe you just had chemo, and you’re out there throwing up,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t expect my kids to ever quit. How could I ever quit?’ And they’re like, ‘ah, good point,'” Coleman said.
Despite the hardship Coleman says it can’t compare to the impact of Galiano’s death on Forney’s young players.
“I couldn’t imagine what those girls went through, they’re in my prayers,” Coleman said.
On this day, it was The Colony that ended the game with the most runs, but Forney’s head coach gathered his team to remind them that getting this far was an achievement worthy of champions.
“I just wanted them to know, they’re going to leave Forney being one of the best teams that ever walked through here. To get to the regional finals, I mean that’s a special thing,” Forney coach Pat Eitel said.
While Forney’s players may have left the field disappointed, fans like Galiano’s middle school coach, Laurie Cook surrounded them with pride for what they’ll take away from the season.
“They learned to stand together, have each other’s back, and that’s what’s important. You know athletic sports is life lessons, and that’s what… that’s what it’s all about,” Cook said.
“It doesn’t matter that the season ends here, our prayers are with them,” Coleman said.
While the season ends for the Forney team, the tributes to Emily Galiano do not. The Texas Rangers will host a Forney High School Softball Team Night on June 21. The girls team will be recognized on the field before the game and a portion of ticket sales will go to the “Play for Em Foundation.”