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Waxahachie, Texas- October 21, 2015- October isn’t the easiest of months for Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) volleyball player Emmalee Smith .  As the days grow shorter, the air turns cooler and volleyball is in full swing, it means another year has passed since losing her mother.

“The time around her passing is always a hard time,” says Emmalee, “I can remember everything that happened leading up to that day.”

It was during Emmalee’s freshman year that her mother, Cynthia Smith , passed away from colon cancer.  “She was first diagnosed when I was very young.  She battled 13 years with many operations. She fought for so long and on October 18, 2012 she passed away,” explains Emmalee.

In the fall of 2012, Emmalee was new to SAGU.  For many students the first semester of college is spent figuring out how to successfully live in a dorm and navigate a sea of college courses.  For Smith, it was spent living through the greatest heartbreak a girl her age, or most anyone, could imagine.

Head volleyball coach Hank Moore has coached Emmalee for many seasons, not only at SAGU, but for two years in club ball while Emmalee was still in high school.  Moore has watched Emmalee grow up right before his eyes, “Emmalee is a very strong person, but she has grown so much over the last three years.”

Throughout Smith’s volleyball career she always had the full support of her mother.  It was difficult for Cynthia to make it to games and sit in the bleachers.  Anytime Emmalee saw her mom in the stands she knew it was such a sacrifice for her to be there.

One memory that stands-out for Emmalee was in the fall of 2012, when Coach Moore and Justin Wilson went to her house to pray for her mother, “I was sitting right next to her and they were talking and she looked at me and said, I am so proud of her. It was something small but I can remember that so well.”

No doubt Cynthia would be beaming with pride now.  Smith is a top libero who is set to break SAGU’s all-time leading digs record within the next couple of games.  Taking the honor that was set by her mentor, Jordan Southerland .

Moore isn’t surprised one bit by Emmalee’s success, “Emmalee has been the heart and soul of our defense for the past four seasons. Her lead has been by example, as she is the hardest worker in every practice. She sets the standard of what it look likes to play and compete with excellence.”

On Friday, October 23, 2015 the SAGU volleyball team will be hosting a Blue Game, in honor of Cynthia Smith.  Everyone is encouraged to come and wear blue while cheering on the SAGU Lady Lions.

“When she passed away in 2012 I had so much support from my teammates and coaches,” remembers Emmalee, “I know that breast cancer is huge in October and colon cancer awareness is in March, but having the support and being able to dedicate a day and a game to her is so important to me and it means so much.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal (colon) cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the third most common cancer in men and in women.

In 2012, 134,784 people in the United States were diagnosed with colorectal cancer.  Of that number, 51,516 people in the US died from colon cancer.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The university was established in 1927, and now offers more than 70 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees on campus or online. More information is available at or by calling 1-888-YES-SAGU.

Contact: Natalie Tristan, SAGU SID, [email protected]

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