UNION TWP. | The tears were everywhere. Abundant and falling, they were.
A loss in the postseason almost always has such an affect. A season of dreams, a lifetime of hopes and a game of sudden-death consequences suddenly ended by the numbers on the scoreboard.
Andrean girls soccer coach Tony Pagorek spoke to his 59ers on Thursday night at the Class A Wheeler Sectional semifinals. The host Bearcats won a great matchup 2-0.
But that's not why the Andrean players were crying. There was a much bigger, and more important, reason for the salt-water cheeks.
Andrean wasn't playing a game. They were simply playing for Renee Ohrn, an Andrean graduate and former soccer player who died last weekend in Bloomington due to complications from a fire.
"You guys played your hearts out," Pagorek said.
That was correct. But the 59ers also played with all of their souls, their spirits and with all of the love a group of teenagers could ever hope to have.
Today at the Nativity of Our Savior church in Portage, Ohrn, a Gary native, will be laid to rest. And if she was able, somehow, to see her friends and teammates compete on Thursday night at Wheeler, I am sure she would smile.
I am positive she is giving a heavenly "thumbs up" to all the 59ers, no matter what the scoreboard said.
"If she was here I know she would've wanted us to keep going, to keep fighting," Andrean senior Vanessa Vargas said. "She was always pushing us. I loved the way she laughed. She always gave us 'thumps up' during practices and games.
"I'm going to miss her. She just always lit up the room."
Pagorek used to race Ohrn during her four years on the 59ers' roster. As a freshman, she got blown away. As a sophomore, the distance was less. That followed suit her junior year, too. Last fall, the coach and the never-quit kid raced again.
When Pagorek turned around to see where Ohrn was he had to look ahead for the first time. She beat him.
"That's when I realized how hard she had worked," Pagorek said. "She was a true student-athlete. Her dedication was unbelievable."
Andrean athletic director Tim Crnkovich watched the game after a very tough week of being an administrator at 5959 Broadway. Students who needed help were talked to. Meetings were held where kids were able to cry and laugh and remember. Together.
But all of that did not take away the sting that life sometimes sends.
"It's tragic," Crnkovich said. "Anytime a young person has something like that happen to them -- whether you know them or not -- and you read it in the paper it hits you pretty hard. Especially when you're around kids every day.
"Renee was a quiet kid in the hallways. She will be missed. I know the girls are playing for her right now."
Senior April Biscocho had trouble answering any questions. Her tears were the heaviest. Her moans were uncontrolled. She had known Ohrn since she was 5.
Whenever the team huddled last year someone would say let's give 110 percent. Biscocho remembered her friend cracking everyone up by saying, "That's not possible."
Mathematically she was right. But on Thursday night, on a rural patch of grass, the Andrean 59ers gave 1000 percent. And it wasn't to win a game. It was to remember their friend.
"I think she'd be proud of us," Biscocho said. "We pushed hard. We gave it everything we had. I just wish we would've won it for her."
April, on this night the scoreboard didn't matter. You and your teammates left everything you had on the field. You battled tough emotions all week. There was nothing more to give.
You all are winners. I'm sure that's what Renee is thinking right now.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.