Southern Door Girls Basketball Banding Together After Tragedy

By Ryan Rodig |

Published 01/23 2014 10:29PM

Updated 01/23 2014 10:49PM

(WFRV-TV) - You know the old expression: "Wearing your heart on your sleeve?"

That's what the Southern Door girl's basketball team has been doing since January 3rd, when they first started wearing a black arm band with the name "Jenna" and a heart stitched next to it.  In mid-December junior guard Abby Baranczyk's 14-year old sister Jenna unexpectedly died from an aneurysm in her spleen.

"I was with her," junior Abby Baranczyk said of the night her younger sister passed away suddenly.  "It was all a big process to be there, and the ambulance, and just hoping for miracles.  Just praying a lot."

Abby says her and her sister had a lot in common from the sports they played, the clothes they wore, and their propensity from planning their future's in great detail.  Abby says Jenna was so organized and focused on doing what she set her mind to, which included becoming a pediatrician one day.

"We were just so blessed to have someone like her in our lives," Abby says.

Now life has changed forever for Abby and her family.  No longer does she have her regular passenger next to her in the car ride to school, or  a convenient person to play sports with/against at home.  And no longer does she have her number one fan in the stands.

"Every time, every single one," said Abby when asked if Jenna attended her games.  She wouldn't miss one."

The team decided they didn't want to miss an opportunity to support Abby and honor Jenna, and that's where the armbands and the many tributes on teammates basketball shoes come in.

"When Abby actually came back and played with us versus Sturgeon Bay she took off her necklace which was Jenna's and put it around Megan's (Hawkey) neck because Megan is out with an ACL," said Abby's teammate and friend Courtney VanHout.  "She said I want you to wear this every game so Jenna is with us on the bench.  So I got that thought that we could get armbands so she could be on the court with us too, in memory of Jenna."

Those around her say getting back on the court has been a big benefit for Abby.

"You could really see it the first week she came back," said head coach Brandon Wautier.  "I think it was a nice break for her.  Going through a situation like that, you can only cry so much.  I think it was nice for Abby to play basketball again, and be with her close friends on the basketball court."

Those friends have proven that while Eagles may fly alone in nature, that's not the case in Southern Door, where this team has banded together.

 "It just reminds me that she's there," said Abby.  "She's with us, playing on the court like she always was.  It hurts a lot, but we know that she's actually there with us, even though she's not physically.  She's in our hearts."

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