United in grief: BP volleyball team keeps its thoughts on the Harberts family

Published 10:40 pm Monday, September 10, 2018

BLOOMING PRAIRIE — With the name of a third grade girl she coached in a volleyball camp this past summer etched on her left shoe, Blooming Prairie sophomore walked Micalyn Trihus walked up to the service line in front of a crowd wearing purple, that little girl’s favorite color. Trihus served an ace and flashed a smile.

It was a much needed moment of joy for a town that has gone through a lot of pain in the past few days. Emerson Harberts, a BP third-grader, passed away in a car wreck on Friday and the crash left her mom Rachel, a BP first-grade teacher and former junior high volleyball coach, and her brother Jaxon, a seventh-grader who plays football, in critical condition and fighting for their lives.

“We’ve played these last few games in Emerson’s honor and her memory. It’s good for us to remember her. It makes us determined to win for her,” said Trihus, who had Rachel as a teacher when she was younger. “I think Blooming is one of the best communities you can grow up in. We’re so close and everyone’s ready to help, no matter what happens. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

The Blooming Prairie volleyball team paid homage to the Harbert family in BP Monday. The Harberts family was in a car accident last week. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

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After playing in a tournament over the weekend, the BP volleyball team wanted to find a way to honor the Harberts family for Monday’s game. They raised medical funds by passing a ball around for fans to place donations in, they encouraged the crowd to wear purple, and the team braided its hair as Emerson loved to have her braided. There was also a moment of silence held before the match.

BP junior Julia Worke said the squad had their head coach Ranell Kittleson on their minds as Kittelson is close to the Harberts family.

“It was really hard, especially because it was so hard for our coach and seeing her go through so much,” Worke said. “They’re so close and we kind of felt like we had to be there for [Kittelson] and play for her. I think us being together is better than us trying to be apart and dealing with it. We’ve got to be strong and play together.”

In towns like BP, the tragedy of one family sends shockwaves across the community. Kittelson said it’s been hard to grasp what’s happened, but she’s glad that her team has served as a support system.

Blooming Prairie’s Micalyn Trihus, left, and Rachael Oswald celebrate a point in a win over Randolph in BP Monday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

“I think we’re all just still in shock. We’re praying and our hearts go out to the Harberts family. We’re praying for them to stay strong and keep fighting,” Kittelson said. “I think it was really neat that the girls came together and worked on some plans on how honor them. We’re fighting for Rachel and Jaxon and we have Emerson in our thoughts and prayers and we love her. I wear my heart on my sleeve as a coach and we have a small team this year. We’re really a tight-knit family and we lift each other up. We’re there for each other through the good and the bad. They continue to impress me.”

A caring bridge site has been set up for the Haberts family at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/rachelandjaxonharberts/journal.

Rachael Oswald puts up a hit against Randolph in Blooming Prairie Monday. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com