The Bolles School (Jacksonville, Fla.) girls’ volleyball team had hopes this season of hoisting its first state championship trophy under longtime coach Elise Bush since she last won in 1989.
And while the Bulldogs are still chasing a title for Bush, they may have to win it without her. Bush, who has has served as the school’s volleyball coach for 30 years, stepped away from the sidelines after her ovarian cancer diagnosis last week, according to The Florida Times-Union.
Bolles assistant Allison Denmark is now tasked with filling the considerable shoes of a legendary coach who has collected a 668-281 record and 19 state final four appearances in her career.
The Bulldogs returned the core of a team that reached the 2014 Class 4A regional semifinals under Bush. They started 17-3 this season before her cancer diagnosis earlier this month. So, when Bolles hosted fellow Jacksonville area power St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park, Fla.) on Tuesday, Bush’s absence was felt. But her presence was even more palpable.
Bolles players wore t-shirts bearing Bush’s name, fans held blown up photos of the coach and the crowd was a sea of blue in honor of ovarian cancer awareness, per The Florida Times-Union. The Bulldogs responded by sweeping all three sets in a win they hope propels them to a championship.
“It’s been difficult for me; she’s been like my second mom,” senior outside hitter Brittney Rayfield told the paper. “She means a lot to the whole team. We’re playing for her.”
Ironically, Friday’s contest between Bolles and crosstown rival Bishop Kenny is an annual Pink Out game to raise breast cancer awareness during the month of October. The idea for the annual event was first suggested by Bush in 2008. Godspeed for a healthy recovery, and go get that title.