FOREST CITY, Pa. — Dressed in pink on the hardwood, the Forest City Regional School Lady Foresters warmed up before the game dedicated to their teammate, Alyssa Cahoon.
"Basketball was it was all about the team, even if she wasn't the best player out there, she was the one supporting them through everything, so her biggest thing was to tell everyone to smile when she told them to smile, the team did better everybody did better, and that's what it was all about," said Stephen Cahoon, Alyssa's father.
The 17-year-old passed away last August while training with the Pennsylvania National Guard at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.
Aly played on the varsity team as a freshman and would have been a senior this year.
Her coach and teammates remember her encouraging spirit.
"Alyssa was a special kid. She had a heart of gold, phenomenally generous, and just had a great love for everyone she came in contact with," said Jeremy Popiel, girls varsity basketball head coach.
"She was really supportive through the ups and downs. She would say keep smiling. She would motivate us through practice through games, not get down on ourselves, and off the court, she was the same way," said Emily Matoushek, fundraiser organizer.
Aly's twin sister Brianna is also on the team. Before the game against the Carbondale Area Chargerettes, the team and the Cahoon family gathered to retire Aly's #42 jersey.
"Unfortunately, with her tragic passing, this seemed like the most appropriate thing for us to do, to remember her not for her athletic accolades but for what she did as a person while she was with us. It's going to be an emotionally high-charged game, but we're excited to be able to honor someone as special as her," said Popiel.
Part of the proceeds from the memorial game will go to Aly's Treasured Heart, a fund created to research her rare heart condition.
"It's called early repolarization syndrome. There's not a lot known about it, and it's a very sudden thing, unfortunately," said Stephen Cahoon.
"Brianna and I have the same condition, so Aly saved us because we both have the defibrillator now so that the same thing won't happen to us," said Susan and Brianna Cahoon, Aly's mother and sister.
Check out WNEP’s YouTube channel.