Coach's Corner

Jessie Stair - R.I.P.

My wife and I attended the memorial service for Jessie Lorraine Stair last week and it was an absolutely incredible turnout for support. It was a complete Husky love fest for one memorable Husky basketball fan. Jessie was the daughter of Molly and Bob Rondeau and her father, Marty Stair. She died at twenty years of age.

She was a special needs child who had outrun death a number of times in her short life. She was always smiling and obviously had a wonderful impact on a lot of people's lives.

I cried when her best friend, Marcie Mineard, also challenged, read a letter to her now deceased best friend. Marcie was followed by six family members, including Jessie's grandfather, all showing their obvious love and admiration for the girl who, despite having never spoken a full sentence and could barely walk, chose to run thru life.

She had become a great Husky men's basketball fan. She had been in attendance at most Husky home games because Molly and Bob decided to add it to her busy schedule.

Molly had been a basketball player for Notre Dame so basketball became part of Jessie's life. A Big part.

Jessie's memorial was attended by Todd Turner, Coach Willingham and Coach Romar, along with their wives. They all turned out to honor the life of the daughter of "the voice of the Huskies". Bob Rondeau is and always should be the radio voice for the Huskies. A Husky game just wouldn't seem right without Bob's resonant voice. And basketball games won't seem the same without Jessie.

The Rondeaus are family. He is part of the Husky sports family just like any other player, coach, support personnel, or administrator. He is often the face of the program. He is on the team.

To see so many people turn out and remember Jessie had to be warming for both parents. Sometimes the special child is really a blessing - like an angel.

Truly Jessie won the hearts of many, including her favorite players - going back to Jamie Booker, then Todd McCullough, then Mike Jensen, then Nate Robinson, and this last season, Jon Brockman. She died wearing his number 40 jersey. All of the players knew they had no choice in becoming Jessie favorite player. She simply picked them and then she was their fan. She cheered for them individually. Her player always played well. She preferred to win and it was obvious from all the competitive stories told, that she was a gambler and a gamesman. She was always excited just to be there. Jessie was excited to be anywhere. She had that sort of attitude and that sort of love for life.

She left without much warning but not before she had made her mark in many of our hearts. She always made an impact on anyone who was ever around her. You remembered Jessie.

At her memorial I took the opportunity to introduce myself to her father, Marty, and he commented, "You Huskies really support each other and I thank you for that." I took that as a compliment as a group, because as I looked around there had to be hundreds of Huskies in attendance and all came to honor one of their own.

One fan who always took time to dance and I'm proud to say I got to dance with her.

Jon Brockman and Mike Jensen were there, and I think that speaks to what outstanding young men they are. They know how important they were in Jessie's life and they also know how important she was in theirs. Sometimes we forget how important sport is to children. With Jessie, basketball was very important. As were school, parties, dances, and any other thing she was doing. With Jessie, everyday was important and she knew - it even if she could never tell anyone. She lived her life that way and those of us who knew her are better for it.

The Huskies will miss Jessie Lorraine Stair and so will I.

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