Briana Gardner — Staff Writer
On Oct. 1, the Dordt University Women’s Soccer team set out to play their final nonconference match of the season against the Bellevue University Bruins. But to the players, this was more than just another game.
The week before, Ellie Stuart, a sophomore soccer player, found out that her father had been diagnosed with leukemia. Doug Stuart is an avid supporter of Dordt women’s soccer and a familiar face to the team. Doug enjoys watching his daughter play so much that he has driven to games over eight hours away from home.
“I feel like my dad has been a part of this school and our program,” Ellie said. “He’s tried to make it a point to show that he cares about my team.”
When Stuart’s teammates found out about the news, they wanted to do something to support the family. One teammate bought orange prewrap to use as headbands. Orange is the color signifying support for those diagnosed with leukemia. The players also wrote Philippians 4:4-7 on their wrists, which is Doug’s favorite Bible verse. This act of support created a sense of unity in the team and brought the girls even closer.
“I’ve never been on a team like this before, where everyone has this compassion and they care so much,” Ellie said. “It doesn’t matter who it is–if it’s a freshman or a senior, or even if I don’t talk to them that much. I still know that they are there for me.”
Every player fought hard that game, resulting in a 2-1 score with Dordt gaining another win. Doug watched the game from the hospital. After the game, spectators brought Ellie and her mother kind words and flowers.
Doug’s fight against Leukemia is far from over. Having just started treatment, he will begin to feel the physical effects of chemo in the upcoming weeks. Ellie and her family are taking it day-by-day.
A friend of Ellie’s set up a GoFundMe page to show support and gather funds for the Stuart family and Doug’s treatment. Dordt has shown its support by sharing this link to the women’s soccer Instagram page. It can be found in their bio.
In the words of the Dordt women’s soccer Instagram page, “Defender Nation is praying for you, Stuart Family!”