By Jacob Sonne
Photos by Kelly Oram, Davis High School
Tragedy stuck over the summer when incoming girls basketball senior Sofie Vasquez was involved in a fatal car accident during a family trip to California. Her death has had a major impact on this year’s team and much of the Davis High School student body.
The team was putting on a basketball camp for local youth that week and Sofie let her coach know that she would not be there to help out with camp on Thursday. That was June 9.
“I remember pulling up Thursday morning thinking ‘Sofie’s not going to be here.’ I really did think about her that morning,” head coach Anne Jones said. “We finished up camp and I was at home and I got a phone call in the afternoon, and it said that Sofie’s family had been in an accident near Southern Utah and Sofie had been killed at the scene.”
After receiving the devastating news, Jones reached out to her assistant coaches, split up the team, and each told a few players what had happened. Amid the tears and anguish of losing a teammate and friend, the team got together to do something for the Vasquez family.
“That night we got together as a team and we went to her house and tied white balloons and messages there before the family got home,” Jones said.
Sofie was a person who was very loved by her teammates and had a special and unique bond with everyone. Senior Lindsey Reich pointed out that there was definitely a mood change the week following the news.
In the event of a death within a team, there is an uphill battle that the team must fight to overcome their grief. In Sofie’s situation the hill was steeper than normal. The team was not only losing a key contributor on the court, Sofie was the glue that held the team together off the court and someone one could always turn to for a smile.
“Whenever anybody was in a bad mood (they would) just always go to Sofie, said senior Sussan Vallejo. “She was just so happy all the time and smiling. She just brought your mood up, and her smile was just contagious.”
Her leadership and happiness cannot be put into words that justify what Sofie meant to this team.
“One thing I remember was she was just always a friend to every single person,” senior Keeley Stringham said. “Especially the people that don’t have the most friends, she will always go and include them.”
Sofie was such a vibrant and lively person that it even threw her coach off.
“Her sophomore year she always had this big grin on her face and I said to one of my assistants, ‘I’m not sure I really quite know how to read her, she’s always smiling,’” Jones said.
As Jones continued to coach and get to know Sofie, she was able to notice a unique quality in her. While she was bright, shiny and happy on the outside, she was a fierce competitor when practice and game time came.
“You always have certain things you’re looking forward to each season, and for me it was seeing Sofie blossom,” Jones said. “She was getting better every practice and every game, and you could see her athletic ability starting to take over, she was becoming a better basketball player.”
In reaction to losing a friend and teammate like that, the team has done a few things to remember her. The team is wearing yellow warm up shirts to represent her bright attitude that say “#smileforsof” on the backs. At the first game of the year the team honored the family and brought them down to midcourt in their #smileforsof shirts and had a moment of silence.
The Vasquez family has remained involved with the team and still comes to games to support that part of Sofie’s life that she cared so much about.
It has now been more than six months since Sofie passed and the team is still mending the holes left by her loss. However each individual has learned through this experience and is making an effort to live a little more like her.
“What I’ve learned is that it’s important to be friends with everyone and be a team, be a family and don’t leave anyone out,” Reich said. “Just love everyone.”
It is hard to think of a more fitting legacy Sofie could have left behind.
Davis High senior Jacob Sonne wrote this story as part of the Preps Utah student journalism program, powered by Bank of American Fork, which will award two of our published student journalists college scholarships at the end of the school year. Sonne grew up in Texas and North Carolina and recently moved to Farmington, where he attends Davis High School. He is currently the sports segment editor for our school broadcast – DTV. Sonne enjoys playing basketball, golf and all sports. He is a die-hard fan of the BYU Cougars, Los Angeles Dodgers, Dallas Cowboys and Utah Jazz. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note – Coach Anne Jones shared some additional thoughts about Sofie Vasquez when initially sharing this story with Preps Utah.
“We all loved Sofie so much,” Jones said. “She was a significant contributor to our team on and off the court. She played an irreplaceable role on our team. She was smart on and off the court – she was on track to graduate with her associates degree. Not very many students achieve that let alone participating in sports and the demand that is there.
“She was a spark in our program – combining perfectly the attributes of competitiveness, athleticism, unselfishness, positivity and team play. She was a players’ and coaches’ dream to work with. Sofie was one of the happiest people that I have ever known and her attitude rubbed off on all of us.
“We as a team have participated in fundraising for her family, we have visited her grave and released balloons and have cried and laughed as we often re-tell stories about her. We have dedicated the season to her and wear her No. 35 on our shooting shirts. She is deeply missed by all who knew her. She had some of her best friends on the team.”