'We should have died': Quincy's Robbins back on basketball court less than two months after car accident
Published: Feb. 15, 2016
QUINCY -- The morning of Nov. 4 was foggy when Miayla Robbins pulled her Jeep Liberty onto Cannonball Road headed for Quincy High School.
She never made it.
Jada Humphrey, a junior guard for the Quincy High School basketball team and one of Miayla's closest friends, arrived to school later than usual that day. The teammates typically park their vehicles next to each other in the QHS parking lot so they can walk into school together.
When Humphrey arrived that morning, she noticed Robbins and her sister, Matyia, hadn't arrived. She thought Miayla might have been doing something that involved her knees. Miayla tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during her freshman season, and she tore the ACL in her opposite knee as a sophomore.
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Gems' Simmons carries on friend's spirit through baseball
Published: July 4, 2015
QUINCY — Every time Chase Simmons dresses for a baseball game, he's reminded of a close friend.
His cleats, his ballcap and even his catcher's mask all have Nolan Weber's initials and the No. 11 written on them. After his pregame prayer, Simmons always makes sure to tell Weber he's thinking of him.
"Before games I always say, ‘This one's for you, bud,' said Simmons, a catcher for the Quincy Gems this summer. "It's really humbling to know I had a friend like that one time. Anytime I can do something good, it's for him."
Simmons hasn't been able to talk to Weber in person in nearly two years. On Dec. 21, 2013, Weber passed away after a three-year battle with a brain tumor. He was only 18 years old.
Simmons has since carried on his friend's love for baseball by playing the sport that introduced them to each other in Southeastern Missouri. It started by writing his initials and changing his uniform number when possible.
"Every where I could," Simmons said. "My cleats, my hat, my mask, even my number. I know I'm No. 22 here, but I tried to get No. 11."
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Breathing Easy: Liberty's Obert overcomes physical, mental challenges of vocal cord dysfunction
Published: April 27, 2015
LIBERTY, Ill. — Katelyn Obert never thought she'd have to relearn how to breathe.
As a distance runner on the Liberty track team, Obert's endurance is her biggest attribute. The easier she could breathe, the further she could run.
Last spring, in the middle of her freshman season, breathing became difficult, so difficult in fact she was forced withdraw in the middle of a 3,200-meter race.
"We didn't know what was wrong, but I was running poorly," said Obert, now a sophomore. "At first we thought it was a bacterial infection, so I took medicine and I improved a little bit. Then I went back downhill."
Being consistently short of breath ultimately forced Obert to be removed from the distance events. It wasn't until the end of the season that she learned she had vocal cord dysfunction, a condition where the vocal cords constrict while inhaling and exhaling instead of opening to allow air to pass.
"If her throat was the size of the top of a soda can, she was only getting as much air as the size of the hole you drink out of," Liberty coach Jared Schmidt said. "You're getting like 90 percent of your air blocked."
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Ultimate survivor: Canton freshman pitcher beat cancer, now beating area's top teams
Published: Oct. 7, 2014
CANTON, Mo. — Olivia Jarvis doesn't remember the 2 1/2 years she spent battling leukemia and undergoing chemotherapy.
Her parents, Darron and Heather, never will forget.
It's been eight years since doctors told the Jarvises that Olivia, who's now a freshman pitcher on the Canton softball team, was cancer-free, yet it's still in the back of their minds.
"We were happy, but yet we were still nervous," Heather said. "Anytime she gets sick, the worries come back."
Olivia was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia -- a type of cancer where the bone marrow makes too many immature white blood cells and the most common in children according to the National Cancer Institute -- two weeks after her fourth birthday in October 2003. She was in remission a month later, but still received shots of methotrexate every week and continued to wear a portacath.
The scar where the portacath was and a scrapbook are the only things has Olivia to remember the ordeal.
"When I see the pictures, that's when I think about it," Olivia said. "Sometimes I like looking at them, but it depends on the picture. Some of them are funny."
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All in the family: Highland's Johnson does her best to carry on tradition of excellence
Published: June 26, 2015
EWING, Mo. — The reminders of her parents' athletic success weren't necessarily front and center as Avery Johnson grew up.
In high school, she couldn't avoid it.
Pictures of the state tournament teams her parents played on -- her father, Aaron, was on the Highland boys basketball team that placed third in 1992 and her mother, Mary Jo, played on the Highland softball team that took fourth in 1990 -- hang in the commons inside Highland High School.
It made Avery want to hang with them, too.
"I didn't really feel pressure," said Avery, who became a two-sport star at Highland in softball and track and field. "I just wanted to be on there, too, because it would be a great experience."
She came one game shy of accomplishing that. The Highland softball team suffered a 15-8 loss to South Callaway in the Class 2 quarterfinals her junior season.
"That was tough after that game," Avery said. "I really thought that was going to be our year. We had a great team and it was really fun that year."
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