Kaylee Strong & CCU Women’s Basketball: Together We R

CCU is a tight-knit student and faculty family, and nowhere is this more visible than in our own Cougar team pride.

This April, the CCU women’s basketball team was honored to receive the “Together We R” award, presented by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and Russell Athletic. The award is given to a collegiate team that comes together to overcome a difficult situation or experience. Thanks to the courageous example set by team manager Kaylee McBeth, the CCU women’s basketball team’s story drew national attention before the award was presented to team coach Tim Hayes during the Women’s NCAA Final Four.

 

The hashtag “#KayleeStrong,” became a common sight around campus during the 2013-2014 basketball season, when CCU’s women’s basketball team dedicated its entire season to support their 19 year old manager, Kaylee McBeth. Kaylee’s battle with an inoperable heart tumor put her on a transplant waiting list last year. Although her condition prevented her from playing basketball at CCU like her two older brothers, she applied her energy and passion to her college team as the manager, earning far-reaching love and respect from her team and throughout the CCU community.

In January of this year, Kaylee passed away in her home just days before her beloved and supportive team played their scheduled weekend games. In a time of campus-wide mourning, Coach Hayes and the rest of the women’s basketball team felt that continuing to play their season’s games dedicated to her memory would honor Kaylee’s spirit, faith, and strength of character. The Cougars won both games that weekend, and players said that the experience of pulling together as a team during and immediately after Kaylee’s health battle brought out not only their best performance but also the very character traits that Kaylee herself exemplified. Though tragic, the example she set during her time as manager embodied the university’s values and taught her team the valuable life lessons that earned CCU’s women’s basketball team the Together We R award this year.

We at CCU are proud of the honor passed to us through the award, but more importantly, we are proud to be a university full of special students like Kaylee, who will be forever remembered as a true CCU Cougar.