While October is considered Breast Cancer Awareness month, the members of the Oklahoma Christian University softball team decided to sport pink in their conference matchup against Lubbock Christian University on Friday to honor several of their teammates and other families who have lost loved ones to the disease.
As Saturday was five years since senior Niki and sophomore Lacey Davidson’s mother lost her battle with breast cancer, the sisters said holding a pink out day so close to the anniversary of her death was a way for both of them to play for her.
“It means a lot to us,” Niki said. “In high school, we played not even a week after she passed away and they had pink balloons in recognition of her. For us to get to continue that through college and have teammates and coaches who care enough to do that, not just for us but for so many other families as well, it just means so much.”
The Davidsons grew up playing a variety of sports before both deciding to stick with softball. According to the sisters, their mother never missed one of their games before she was diagnosed with breast cancer when Niki was 12 and Lacey was 10. She fought the disease for five years before passing away in 2012.
“My freshman year, we were playing on the same travel ball team, but going into that summer, we decided we were going to stop playing competitive for that year,” Lacey said. “There was just no way we would both be able to go to all of the tournaments with everything going on. It was just going to be too hard.”
The two continued to play for their high school, however. Niki visited Oklahoma Christian after her junior year of high school, where she decided to join the Lady Eagle softball program after graduation.
“I was not sure if I was even going to play in college so I had not looked at many other options, but my coach told me about OC and when I came on my visit, I really liked the campus,” Niki said. “That was right when the new field was being built so that was another incentive for me. Coach Heath and the other coaches were really nice, so all of it together just helped me make my final decision to come here.”
Two years later, Lacey decided to follow her sister’s example by also playing softball for the Lady Eagles.
“After everything my family had been through, my sister and I were just there for each other,” Lacey said. “Playing softball with her in high school was something I always enjoyed and I decided I wanted to play with her for as long as I could.”
After playing collegiate softball together for the past two years, Lacey said she will miss having her sister as her teammate next fall, but as Niki plans to be the graduate assistant next season, the two will still see each other often.
“Sometimes we have little arguments but most of the time, we get along really well,” Lacey said. “My favorite part about playing with my sister is that not only is she a leader on the field, but she is also an inspiration and role model to me off the field. I like to think we play well as both sisters and teammates.”
As the two continue to work through losing a parent so young, Niki said they wanted to do something permanent to remember their mother, leading to both getting tattoos in her honor. Lacey’s features her mother’s birth and death dates, along with butterflies, which were released at their mom’s gravesite.
“Mine is in her handwriting and from one of my favorite letters she wrote me for my 16th birthday,” Niki said. “One of her favorite people was always George Strait. We would always listen to him growing up, so my other tattoo is a lyric from one of her favorite songs by him. It says, ‘I’m carrying your love with me.’ They both just help me remember her.”
As the softball team donned pink socks and jerseys to face the Lady Chaps on Friday, Lacey said she knows she and Niki are not the only people on the Oklahoma Christian campus who have felt the lasting effects of cancer in their lives.
“Through this, I learned to not try and go through it by yourself — always have a friend or mentor you can talk to about anything and find people who have gone through similar situations,” Lacey said. “In our case, Niki and I have gone through it so we know the struggle. We are there for anyone who needs someone to confide in. I know it is hard but you are not alone.”