Before the start of the Jan. 13 Yosemite-Sierra girls JV basketball game, team leader Shania Costella, who lost her life in a Jan. 7 auto accident on Crane Valley Road (426), was honored by her teammates and coaches before an emotional crowd.
In her memory, JV Coach James Andersen entered the gym carrying Shania’s jersey, draping it over an empty chair on the bench along with Shania’s tennis shoes, placed under the chair. The team warmed up wearing T-shirts with Costella and No. 30, her number, printed on the back.
Andersen and the team presented a basketball inscribed with heartfelt comments by team members and coaches to Costella’s family including her mother, father and grandparents before the start of the game.
In a show of support, members of the Sierra JV team presented roses and gave hugs to Yosemite team members at mid-court and Sierra’s JV Coach Paige Brown presented a bouquet of flowers to the Costella family.
In my 15 years of covering high school games, I have never seen anything like it.
“This was a tough night,” said an emotional Andersen. “Shania was our leader and an inspiration to us all.”
“This will be your toughest day but we will stay strong as a family,” James said to his players before the game. James and his wife Terri put the pregame memorial together along with team members. “We really struggled this week. Shania was our heart and soul. She was my point guard and a second coach on the floor. She was tough and brave. But I know she would want us to continue our season and give it our best.”
Costella was also a member of the Yosemite High Cadet Corps. During a Jan. 11 private ceremony with Costella’s family, she was posthumously promoted to Cadet Master Sergeant and awarded the Distinguished Service Ribbon.
“She was an incredible young lady who was a natural leader,” Command Sergeant Major Dave Archer said. “She was one of the strongest cadets I’ve ever trained, mentally and physically. Her uniform was always perfect, and her laughter and smile was infectious to anyone around her.”
A full military honors service will be held 1 p.m., Jan. 21, at Oakhurst Evangelical Free Church.
During interviews, Coach Andersen could not contain his tears for Shania and the pain his team is going through. He speaks of his Lady Badgers as a “family.”
Shania’s family is a big part of Badger basketball. Sophomore Tiana Chapman, Shania’s younger sister, plays on the same team. Perhaps the most moving scene at the game had to be Tiana, who bravely made it through an emotional evening surrounded and supported by her family and teammates.
Sophomore cousin Dylan Allen is a guard on the boy’s JV team. Dylan’s sister Courtney, a former player, keeps the stats for both girl’s teams.
The results of the game, a 52-29 win by the Chieftains, didn’t matter. The Chieftain JV girls were a huge reason the memorial was such a success.
We all know of the Sierra-Yosemite rivalry. Sierra games will always be our most emotional games, regardless of the sport. But on Jan. 13, we were all one family mourning Shania for the moment.