LYNN HAVEN, Fla (WJHG/WECP) - It's a very tough time indeed for Mosley's head volleyball coach Michelle Mask, her daughter and senior player Lauren, and their entire family.
And it's a very odd dynamic given, in terms of volleyball, it's the best of times. The Dolphins, in the last three weeks have won a district title and two state playoff matches. And are getting set to host a 6A region final Tuesday night with a state finals berth on the line. That would be a first for Mosley!
And yet it's the worst of times, because Michelle's son, Lauren's brother, 20 year Dalton Mask is fighting a very serious brain tumor.
Dalton went into the army last October, and was in Germany when he suffered a seizure. He came back to the states and is at Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland, and within the last ten days received the a very serious prognosis.
In the midst of all that, Dalton's father has spent weeks by his son's side, while coach Mask and Lauren have flown back and forth, dealing with Dalton's battle, and trying to keep some semblance of normalcy on the court. And they've been winning.
Here are some thoughts from coach Mask on what she and her family are going through, the love and support they are getting, and an inspiring young man who last week, with the region semifinal coming up, said this to his mother right after brain surgery.
"You know, it's 8 o'clock in the morning and I knew I had to leave by 8:30 to catch my flight if I was going to come," coach Mask told me."And all the girls knew that I wasn't sure if I could leave. And that I would make that decision Wednesday morning. I booked my plane ticket, but I told them I wasn't sure if I'd be there and it just kind of depended on the fact that I could leave. So I'm sitting there and I'm looking at my son, and I'm telling him, kissing him, trying to tell him bye. And he looks at me and he tells me to stop being a sissy. And he told me to kick their butt and come back in a couple of days. So I did!
As for her daughter, senior Lauren Mask, well the coach wants Lauren to enjoy this time on the court with her teammates, knowing that like for her, Dalton is never far from Lauren's mind.
"Lauren's been a rock star through this. It's been hard with both of us being in Maryland, and her here being in, you know, we don't have family here in Panama City. So it's really been friends that have kind of carried her through. And it's everybody from leaving food at the house to calling, to texting, just to sit on the couch with her. But yeah the friends that she's had and the girls on this team, their affection for her and they know she's having a hard time. And just the whole community from the teachers, I mean everybody has really lifted her up and encouraged her. I think it's really helped her kind of get through it."
As for this team, which if it wins Tuesday night, would be the first Mosley volleyball team to ever make the state semifinals, well, it certainly isn't the most talented team she's coached, but Mask wouldn't trade this group for any other!
"Athletically this is probably not the best athletic team I've ever coached, but I will tell you as an overall whole this is by far the best team I've ever coached. How they work together, how they want it together, how they love each other, it is amazing to me how we've accomplished so much because of the genuine love for each other that they have. And I really do think that the genuine love they have for me has made a huge difference on where we're at and what's going on. I think that that factored in to the last two big wins that we've had."
That match Tuesday night against Bishop Kenny of Jacksonville at 7 p.m.