Prep softball: Olympus' Everett finds sanctuary from cancer battle in softball
Reagan Everett knows she belongs when the Olympus softball team takes the field.
The sophomore works left field like a seasoned player and is every pitcher's nightmare when she steps into the batter's box. Her thick, curly hair pulled into a ponytail sticks out of her helmet as she stares down the hurler. Gripping and regripping the bat, she shows confidence that is in conflict with the butterflies in her stomach.
The cure to these nerves is simple.
"I just need to see that first pitch," Everett said. "Everything disappears and I'm just a baseball player after I see how the pitcher is working. I settle in and get ready to go to work."
Everett is susceptible to more serious butterflies off the diamond. The power-hitting, 17-year-old has to undergo a series of full-body scans looking for cancerous tumors every three months.
Everett, who was diagnosed with Li-Fraumeni syndrome last year, is 25 times more likely to develop malignant tumors than the average person. The rare autoimmune disorder disrupts the body's maintenance of the cancer-killing protein, P53. Twenty-four of Everett's 27 family members who have been diagnosed with Li-Fraumeni syndrome have died from cancer complications.
Instead of surrendering to the disease, Everett throws herself into softball. She earned a starting position for the Titans as a freshman, and coach Madi White said Everett is not a charity case. The coach calls Everett the heart of the Olympus squad and a very dangerous hitter who always has a positive attitude.
"Reagan doesn't want to be babied. She wants to be treated like everyone else," White said. "She's a power hitter. We like to set up [our lineup] with speed then power, and Reagan can drive the ball to the fence."
Everett's uncle persuaded her to drop cheerleading and get involved with softball when she was 12. The sport has been all-consuming for her since that decision.
Everett's father, James, takes her to the batting cage for two hours after every practice and game so she can hone her skills. She plays for the competitive team Xtreme, and Salt Lake Community College named her an honorary Bruin.
"She's very committed to the sport very aggressive, very coachable," SLCC coach Cyndee Bennett said. "She's a motivational force in the softball community. Players listen to her, but they also respect her."
Everett underwent surgery to remove two brain tumors in August. The first tumor along her frontal lobe was inoperable, but doctors were able to remove the second. The doctors unfortunately only were able to remove the mass and not the cancerous tentacles. Those tentacles might form new tumors.
"Your life stops as a parent when your child gets cancer," James said. "But Reagan is so tough and positive. She wants to do the hard things in life. She knows she has cancer, but continues to fight in everything she does."
The fight started following her surgery. Unable to take medication because of the location of the procedure, Everett was forced to endure the post-surgery pain. Her fingers were pricked on the hour for blood tests, and she was forced to undergo more body scans.
"The pain was the only thing that sucked," Everett said. "I didn't get any pain medication for the first three days. I didn't really sleep at all, but my teammates came and hung out to help me through it."
Everett's return this season has been immeasurable for the Titans as they run away in Region 7. She's collected a hit in six of her last 10 at-bats with three RBIs, and her season on-base percentage is over .500.
"Softball is my escape from everything," Everett said. "When I'm on the field, I don't think about anything except where I am supposed to throw or anticipate that hit."
When Olympus hosts Bountiful next Friday, the team will hold a fundraiser for Everett.
"My game plan is to hit the fricking crap out of the ball just like every game," Everett said.
About Olympus sophomore Reagan Everett
• While recovering from surgery, Everett was home-schooled, maintaining a near-4.0 GPA.
• Everett was made an honorary Bruin last year by SLCC coach Cyndee Bennett.
• As a freshman, Everett won a captain's award for inspiration and motivation for Olympus.
• Those wishing to make a donation can visit any Chase Bank location or go to http://www.titantough21.com/donate-to-reagan.html.
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