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Forged by tragedy

SUNY Geneseo unveiled an honor to the late Kelsey Annese on the team's senior day.
Geneseo athletics photo 

“When it hurts to look back and you are afraid to look forward, look beside you and there will be your friend,” SUNY Geneseo athletics tweet on Jan. 18 over photos of a women’s basketball and men’s hockey team huddle.

At SUNY Geneseo, there is an extraordinary women’s basketball team made up of a resilient group of phenomenal women forged by the fires of adversity during an emotional season.

Unfortunately for the Knights, basketball became irrelevant during the middle of January after a heartbreaking tragedy rocked the SUNY Geneseo campus. Nothing prepared the Knights for the shocking and devastating news of when senior captain Kelsey Annese and another senior, Matthew Hutchinson, a member of the men’s hockey team, were taken away from this world much too soon.

“All the credit belongs to them,” said head coach Scott Hemer, who was named SUNYAC Coach of the Year. “There’s no manual or college course on how to deal with something like that.

“It’s one of those things that if you’re a parent or coach, you never dream about or imagine having to deal with. I got a phone call from the school administration telling me that there was an incident involving one of my players and to get to the crime scene as soon as possible. No words can describe what went through my mind leaving the house and arriving at the scene. I’ll never forget.”

Hemer may have been honored for his coaching acumen, but he could have easily been feted for his poise, mettle and leadership in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. He had had the difficult task to meet with inconsolable team and family members.

“I had no idea what to say,” Hemer said. “Somebody had to try and provide direction so that we could move forward together. I told my team that we would support whatever decision they made. It was several days of an emotional roller coaster and they decided to play in her honor. It’s just a credit to the character of the student-athletes we have in our program. It was a struggle to accomplish what we did and as their head coach, I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Fast forward to Monday afternoon when the Knights had to sweat out an at-large...

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Rob Knox

A former Division III Sports Information Director at Lincoln University, Rob Knox also worked at Coppin State, ESPN, Kutztown and at the Delaware County Daily Times. Knox is currently the CoSIDA Third Vice-President. He was inducted into the Lincoln University Athletics Hall of Fame, named the CoSIDA Rising Star Award College Division winner and won three writing awards for various game stories including the 2007 D-III sectional triple-OT game between Guilford and Lincoln. In the past, he has also written articles for SLAM magazine and the Philadelphia Inquirer. He is a die-hard Philadelphia sports fan, a graduate of Lincoln and is from Chester, Pa.
Previous columnists:
2010-13: Brian Falzarano
2010: Marcus Fitzsimmons
2008-2010: Evans Clinchy
Before 2008: Mark Simon


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