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Senior's Night

Posted: February 8, 2008 5:53 a.m.
Updated: April 10, 2008 2:01 a.m.

Golden Valley High senior basketball player Tera McKelvey, a four-year team captain, will be playing her final game as a Grizzly tonight when her team plays West Ranch.

With tonight in mind, the Golden Valley High girls basketball team ordered its first-ever batch of what-will-you-miss-the-most cards.

In a high school tradition as old as the pledge of allegiance, the Grizzlies will give a send-off to the program's first-ever senior class - a core group that was on the first team as freshmen - with a senior night at home against West Ranch.
Emotions will be mixed.
Having won just twice in its 19 Foothill League chances over the past two seasons, and with the playoffs having been out of reach for weeks now, finding enough positives to fill up a card might seem an ambitious endeavor.
Except, perhaps, if you're T.Jay McKelvey.
When it comes to the career of his younger sister Tera, a four-year team captain on the foundation-forming squad, he wishes he had a 50-pack.
"When I sit at that game, my eyes are going to be red and I'm going to be completely exhausted from working a double shift and I will be feeling nothing but pride," says the 32-year-old law enforcement officer. "It will be emotional. I went to Canyon. I bleed green and gold and I've been trying to talk her into going there from the start, but she's stuck it out. She wanted to be a part of starting something and hasn't backed down from tough times."
The adversity-overcoming goes beyond the basketball court.
Beyond her friends having transferred out of the program due to a lack of success against Santa Clarita Valley opponents, beyond being a 5-foot-5 center for her first three seasons, and beyond a 7-18 record as a senior.
Ovarian cancer claimed the life of Kristine McKelvey, a mother to Tera, T.Jay and their now-27-year-old sister Janell, when Tera was 3 years old.
Tera will not have a mom cheering for her in the stands tonight.
A basketball player since age 5, it's a feeling she's never experienced.
"Tera would play with her barbie dolls next to my mom's earn as if they were playing together," her older brother says. "She would go on for hours.
"Other than my sister, she's never had that woman in her life."
It's taken a team effort for the family to get her through it.
When it came time for McKelvey's first school dance at Golden Valley High, T.Jay says their father Don was on the verge of a drive to Super Cuts.
The older brother and his wife intervened, just in time.
With a patchwork effort, they've managed to survive any major miscues and have delivered her to the final game of her senior year a happy person.
"There's an 11-year-gap with my sister, and my brother is 32, but even when I was in kindergarten and they were teenagers, they let me be around," McKelvey says. "I felt like the coolest kid. I wanted to be just like them."
Her sister played high school basketball at Canyon. McKelvey says she remembers going to her games and hanging out with Cowboys teammates.
T.Jay, a former basketball and football player for the Cowboys, claims responsibility for what has become a lifetime love affair with the hardwood.
"As soon as it fit, I put a basketball in her hands," he says.
It started a lifetime bond.
Between brother and sister and between girl and sport.
McKelvey, the Grizzlies' third-leading scorer and rebounder this season, says she plans to coach high school basketball as her future profession.
Being a part of a varsity team has filled out her high school experience.
"I get to play basketball every day of my life," she says. "That's my favorite part about being on a team. I always have that to look forward to."
It was a flip of the coin that brought her to Golden Valley instead of the more-established Canyon in the first place, coming out of high school.
She says there are times she's thought about transferring.
But even though there will be no playoff games during her senior season, McKelvey says she's at peace with the fact she never pulled the trigger.
She had plenty to write when she got her senior night card.
"When I looked at the card, I just started laughing thinking back on all of the funny things that have happened," she says. "I've had so much fun. And when the last game is over, I'm going to miss being a part of this team."


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