Lady Trojans playing through pain of tragedy - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Lady Trojans playing through pain of tragedy

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LEESBURG, GA (WALB) -

Each time the Lee County girls' soccer team has taken the field this season, they've done so without one of their own.

Lady Trojans defender Madison Stokes was turning off Story Lane in August, when she pulled into the path of a tractor trailer, killing her.

"I didn't believe it. I just fell to pieces," says teammate Courtney Ostros of finding out about Stokes' death. "I didn't know how I was going to get through the day."

An aggressive player on the field, her teammates and coaches say she was a great friend off the field.

"One of the hardest working players I've ever been around," says her coach Dave Baltenberger. "She never complained, always did her job. Just a kid you love to coach. You wish you had 20 of them."

Now, months after their teammates' death, the Lady Trojans are in the heart of their season.

But they haven't let her memory fade from the team.

They wear warm ups in her favorite color. Black bands bearing her name and number cover many of the players' shinguards.

During the Lady Trojans' first game of the year, the team sent only 10 players onto the pitch for several minutes, leaving Madison's defender position unmanned.

It was something the team says they'll never forget.

And for every goal scored, every big win, the team knows Madison is right there celebrating with them.

"Even though she's not physically here with us, I know mentally and spiritually she is," says teammate Tamia Mills. "I know she's watching over us."

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