Shawnee girls’ lacrosse captain carrying on legacy of former teammate, best friend

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Late in the second half of Shawnee girls’ lacrosse’s 15–6 win over Kingsway last Thursday, Renegade co-captain and leading scorer Caroline Farley crossed in front of the Kingsway net, leapt into the air and fired the ball past Kingsway goalie Lily Argyle for her fifth goal of the game.

As the ball was released from Farley’s stick, the initials K.K. and the №22 became visible on the head of the stick. Those are the initials and former jersey number of former Shawnee lacrosse player Katie Kernan, an accomplished defender and team leader for the Renegades when she was diagnosed with brain cancer during her senior year. Kernan passed away at the age of 19 last summer.

It has been more than nine months since Kernan’s passing, but Farley and the Shawnee girls’ lacrosse team has kept her memory very much alive.

Last Thursday, Shawnee held its inaugural Score Against Cancer game in honor of Kernan. The team sold t-shirts to raise money for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. About 600 shirts were solid, raising about $6,000.

Kernan’s memory hasn’t just been honored at one game this season. Farley has carried on Kernan’s legacy every time she steps on the field.

This year, Farley was the first person since Kernan to wear №22 for Shawnee girls’ lacrosse. Farley was selected to wear the number prior to the start of the season.

Head coach Aimee Seward said the team wanted to do something revolving around Kernan’s former №22 jersey, but they didn’t want to retire it.

“We decided instead on passing down her number and making that an honor,” Seward said.

For the selection, each senior on the team would write an essay nominating a teammate who they thought had characteristics best resembling Kernan. The coaching staff read through the essays and made their selection based on them.

Seward described Kernan as a strong team player who had a good heart and displayed courage. Those were the key factors the coaching staff was looking for when making their selection.

“When we looked to pass it on, we were looking for a player (who was) not only skilled, but exemplified the teamwork,” Seward said.

Seward felt the team had a number of players who would have been worthy of carrying on Kernan’s legacy. However, she said Farley’s impact on the team and leadership skills made her the perfect fit.

“You can see her athleticism and her love for lacrosse,” Seward said. “But I think some of the other things are how she works with her teammates and how she makes the players on her team better.”

Farley had also been one of the current players who knew Kernan best, having been one of her best friends. Even so, Farley was surprised to be selected.

“I didn’t expect it,” Farley said. “I did use to be best friends with Katie Kernan so I thought there might be a chance. Some of my friends did tell me they were writing about me.”

Farley immediately embraced the idea and dove into the 2015 season with an extra sense of motivation. Her hard work has paid off on the score sheet, as she has scored three goals in all but one game this season and has had two games where she’s registered double-digit points.

“It meant the world to me wearing her number and representing her on the field,” she said. “I’m so honored to wear it and be part of it the first year that it happened.”

Prior to last Thursday’s Score Against Cancer game, all the Shawnee players wore the t-shirts during warm-ups. Just before the game, Farley gathered her team to make sure they knew how important the game was.

“I told everyone in the warm-up, this game’s for her,” Farley said. “Everyone has to play their best for her.”

Farley was a major force for the Renegades, scoring five goals and adding four assists in the game. Each time Farley scored, the writing on her stick became visible as the ball came out. Between the initials on her stick and the number on her back, Farley feels like Kernan has been a big part of Shawnee’s season.

“I’ve played every game for her,” Farley said.