By: Kaylyn Lewis/Co-Sports Editor and Kaelin Hughes/Content Editor
On December 18th, the Lady Raiders faced the Lakeland Chiefs. The game was dedicated to the late Rachel Upright, whose birthday was December 17th; she would have turned 16-years-old. This past summer, tragedy struck the community when Rachel and others of the Upright family were involved in a car crash on their way home from an exciting family vacation. Even if you were not close to Rachel, anyone could see the impact she had on people with her radiant smile and wonderful voice. Upright was very involved at Blue Ridge as a devoted basketball cheerleader and cast member of many Blue Ridge Theater Department productions.
To bring her memory and spirit to life, both the junior varsity and varsity team wore butterflies on their arms, while the coaches wore bracelets to support the cause. Outside of the gym, there were yellow and red roses on display, as well as balloons that were Rachel’s favorite colors, blue and yellow. After the varsity game, cupcakes that were also decorated blue and yellow were provided in front of the basketball cheerleading poster from last year, with Rachel posed in the front.
Before the varsity game started, there was a moment of silence to recognize and remember the beautiful soul.
The Raiders started out strong playing with a purpose, leading 20-15 going into halftime. Although there was a disappointing outcome, the Chiefs grew stronger to overcome with a score of 49-35. Senior Ashley Torres led the team with 17 points and 8 combined rebounds. Senior Savannah Glover also contributed 5 steals to the team.
Even though it wasn’t the outcome expected, it was a great night bringing the community together to celebrate a memorable student, friend, daughter, granddaughter, and much more.
On January 7th, the JV/Varsity boys basketball team held a remembrance game in Rachel’s honor. The Raiders faced the Foresters of Forest City, ready to give the hometown crowd a win to celebrate the bright life.
A moment of silence was held in memory and remembrance of Upright before the starting lineups were announced for the varsity game.
The Raiders came out ready to dominate the Foresters, with a tied score of 11-11 to end the first quarter. Determined to grab the lead, the boys rallied up 12 more points in the second quarter overcoming Forest City 23-18. During half-time, Rachel’s family spoke to the crowd on behalf of Upright and the legacy she will forever have.
The Foresters came back in the third quarter, but not enough to take the lead with a score of 37-36. With a final score of 59-54, the Raiders claimed the victory honoring Rachel. With a whopping 20 points, senior Ben Bleck led the team to victory, with senior Gavin Rosa close behind with 17 points, and junior Carson Koehler with 14 points.
The gym was filled with a sea of yellow shirts reading “Raiders Remember Rachel” to honor the beautiful soul. The immense support from the student body and community around Blue Ridge brought positive energy to the gym, carrying the Varsity boys to another win. During the game, the JV/Varsity basketball cheerleaders held a bake sale and basket raffles to raise money in Rachel’s honor. Proceeds from these sales and the game will be donated to the Blue Ridge Theater Department.
Although the community is still being affected by the passing of Upright, her memory will forever be with the Raiders at Blue Ridge.