It can be at the most difficult of times that the true meaning of team shines through.
The Douglas College Royals women's softball team learned the truth of that message following a tragic loss to a member of the squad just weeks before the most important outing in the program's two-year existence.
Freshman pitcher/ infielder Kyla Myre, the Royals' top player, lost her only brother on May 3.
Her father, an assistant coach with the Royals, and her mother, who also helped out in the Douglas dugout, found strength to cope with their loss in the softball community.
Through the most difficult time imaginable, Kyla's family pulled through, laying 27-yearold Adam to rest, while also making program history by earning a spot in the semifinals before finishing fifth in the team's first-ever appearance at the Northwest Community College regional playoff last weekend.
"It made a difference that her dad was there," said Douglas head coach Gord Collings. "He was more emotional about it. When the kids gave him sympathy, he broke down in tears."
Kyla handled the loss in a more introspective way.
"But when it came to putting it out there, she just gave it. When she was out there, we were all in synch and it was true - in a weird way - it brought everyone together," Collings said.
Kyla had a premonition that something was wrong when her father failed to show up for a regular Thursday practice and could not be reached by phone.
When Kyla got home she learned the news that her brother had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.
"I think softball was a huge outlet for us," said Kyla. "My brother always told us to 'Keep going, keep going, never look back,' so this is what we turned to to keep going in every aspect of our sporting lives."
Last year at approximately this same time, Kyla also lost her grandfather.
She kept his memory alive by pitching one of her best games of the season the very next day.
"I was just trying to embrace that and honour his memory through softball," she said.
Last weekend, Kyla did the same thing for Adam with a stirring performance at the regional playoffs.
Kyla, who finished second in the conference with 206 strikeouts, went the distance in two opening day upset wins, including a 5-3 victory over previously unbeaten No. 2ranked Bellevue College last Friday to reach the semifinals.
Kyla threw more than 200 pitches in the back-to-back wins, while striking out a total of 23 batters, including the final out against Bellevue.
"You just got the sense (the team) was playing for her. They played better for her," said Collings. "You feel it. - They were in sync even in the games we lost, we didn't get the hits, but everyone was supporting each other."
Kyla found support too, but from an unexpected source.
When Kyla is in the pitching circle, she is usually oblivious to her external surroundings.
"I kind of tune everything out," she said.
But last weekend, Adam was with her.
"I do think so," Kyla added. "I'm not particularly spiritual, but there were moments I was thinking (of him), 'OK, you have to give me a little gas.'
"My mom and I were talking after the game and she said she was talking to him all through the game on the bench.
"You got to be kidding," Kyla replied, "because I was doing that exact same thing. I don't usually think of anything when I'm pitching, but this time he was definitely on my mind."
In her final game of the double-knockout weekend against eventual finalist Clackamas Community College, Kyla was the Royals' best player, contributing two runs on three hits, including a gametying home run in the fifth inning that knotted the score 4-4. Clackamas went on to win 6-4 in a game that eliminated the Cinderella Royals.
Through it all, it was softball that got everyone through.
On the Monday before the tournament, two coaches from Skagit Valley attended the memorial service in Surrey that was attended by the Douglas women's team dressed in their black jerseys.
On the opening day of the tournament, the rival Bellevue coach brought over a card of condolences.
At the funeral, Kyla remembered how Adam was her champion when he played community football.
"I wanted to be a cheerleader, but he said that would be the biggest mistake of my life."
So Kyla turned her focus to playing soccer and competitive softball.
"He definitely is my hero," she said.
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