If you attend any sporting event between Shippensburg and James Buchanan high schools, you could expect a traditional Franklin County rivalry between the Rockets and the Greyhounds.
But moments before the first pitch between the Shippensburg and JB softball teams Tuesday, the rivals were gathered in center field with their arms around each other in prayer to honor James Buchanan senior Violet Clark, who died from injuries sustained in a car accident outside the high school on Friday.
Shippensburg coach Mike Peters wrote in a sympathy card addressed to the James Buchanan softball team, "We are all Rockets today."
Clark was a doubles tennis player for James Buchanan, and had a number of good friends on the softball team, which has dedicated the rest of the season to her honor.
"I was really happy because it was so great to see other teams and other communities supporting us," said Kayla Kline, a member of the JB softball team, and one of Clark's best friends. "It was great to see them ignore the fact that we may be rivals and come together with us. I really appreciated it."
Greyhound captain Courtney Coy wanted to honor Clark after the news surfaced of her passing Monday afternoon by making purple hair ribbons, and reached out to JB captain Taryn Miller.
"Shippensburg has always been a real classy team and we love coming out and playing them," Miller said. "We all wanted to come together and go out and pray for Violet. Courtney said that they normally go in center field, so we all decided to say a quick prayer for Violet and for us as well for safety in the game."
"We realized we really need to be strong not only for Violet but for each other," Kline said. "Support is the one thing you need in a time like this. We are playing this game for Violet. It's memorable in some sense to step out on the field and play, not just to win for someone we cared for."
Kline spent some of the weekend at Hershey Medical Center with her close friends and the Clark family as Violet battled for nearly three days.
"I just want to thank my teammates because they've been so kind to me, and texting me non-stop asking how I am," Kline said. "I have to thank them for their support and I know they are trying to give back to me and Violet, because she was so sweet and cared about others before herself and tried to make our lives better. I know they are trying to be more like her and impact other people's lives like she impacted ours."
Prior to the prayer, JB athletic director Larry Strawoet said a few words before the teams and fans observed a moment of silence.
"Words cannot express the tremendous grief our James Buchanan family is experiencing over the tragedy of the past few days," Strawoet said. "As a school and community, we are stunned. As we struggled to return to normalcy, we look to the shining light, which was Violet Clark."
Clark was a very spiritual person, made evident by her social media accounts. Her Twitter bio is a passage from Proverbs 18:10.
"We normally pray before every game, but we wanted to say a prayer for her because she was very spiritual and believed in God," Miller said. "A week or two ago she handed out these booklets that pretty much talked about having a relationship with God and I think that really touched everyone."
James Buchanan coach Troy Pittman said, "It was good to see two teams get together, because this truly is just a game. A young lady lost her life and I've been preaching to the girls this is a game and you have to enjoy it. It was good to see them get together and pray."