April 14, 2024

Life and sport mirror each other in some ways as people experience highs and lows in daily life as well as in games.

No matter the instance, many people are surrounded by loved ones who are ready to rally when times are good or bad.

The women’s water polo team at California Baptist University set an example of this when a teammate encountered a loss of her own.

Jayna Auer, mother of Abi Auer, freshman undeclared major and driver, died of cancer Feb. 20. Auer said her mother was her best friend and said the pair would talk daily and share life with one another.

The women’s team rallied around Auer and her family and became one of her biggest support systems as the women dyed parts of their hair purple.

Laura Kocsis, graduate student studying sports management and utility player, said the team wanted to show support for Auer in any way they could.

“When we heard about Jayna’s passing, we all wanted to be able to support Abi,” Kocsis said. “Right before Jayna started chemotherapy, she dyed her hair blue and purple so we thought it would be a great way to remember her and show our support to Abi.”

The team made purple ribbons with Abi’s mother’s name and attached them to their game bags. At the Tina Finali Invitational Feb. 26-27 at California Lutheran University, the team dedicated every game to Jayna and went 4-0 on the weekend.

Kocsis said the invitational was dedicated to the life she lived and the team was happy to support their teammate.

“We are so thankful to have Abi on our team,” Kocsis said. “Our team is a big family and we are always there to help and support our sister.”

Emily Cardona, junior kinesiology major and driver, said the relationship between Auer and her mother inspired the team to take action.

“A lot of us had just started to get to know Abi and her family,” Cardona said. “Abi and her mom were truly best friends. She is one of the happiest people I have ever met and it hurt to see one of our sisters sad.”

Cardona said Jayna was a huge supporter of the team and attended each game. The rest of the season has been dedicated to Jayna’s legacy and the team will be playing each game in honor of her.

“I believe this will be a big push to make it more possible to win the Golden Coast Conference championship,” Cardona said. “We want to play for Jayna and we want to win for her.”

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