High School Sports

Ashley Crank and her Rock Hill teammates coping with the loss of their Team Mom

Rock Hill teen pushes forward in basketball despite mother's recent death

Rock Hill High School junior Ashley Crank, 17, lost her mother Tavian Crank to lupus unexpectedly last Novermber. Crank, a girls varsity basketball player, pushed forward and is still on the team. Crank's coach Kenny Orr and her teammates have been very supportive, she said.
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Rock Hill High School junior Ashley Crank, 17, lost her mother Tavian Crank to lupus unexpectedly last Novermber. Crank, a girls varsity basketball player, pushed forward and is still on the team. Crank's coach Kenny Orr and her teammates have been very supportive, she said.

Tavian Crank pulled for everybody.

That was the one thing that came up in conversation with each of the players on the Rock Hill Bearcats girls’ basketball team. It wasn’t just about her daughter Ashley, Tavian Crank was there for every member of the squad, whether it be to cheer them on or give them a ride home.

“It was like it was their mom too,” Ashley Crank said. “So they all felt the same thing I was going through.”

They felt the shock and sadness when someone is gone too soon.

Tavian Crank had lupus and she was not feeling well when she was admitted to the hospital on Nov. 14.

That happened from time to time with lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes a number of potentially fatal problems throughout the body’s different systems. But this time the 48-year old’s condition worsened and three days later, on the Friday before Thanksgiving, a blood clot in Tavian’s lungs caused her to go into cardiac arrest for 22 minutes. She was put on life support and her kids, Ashley and her 21-year old brother had to do what no child ever wants to do. They had to make the final decision to let their mother go.

Team Mom

“She’s definitely like a Team Mom to us,” Rock Hill basketball player Makenna Thompson said.

For Tavian Crank, the term really fit. Cheerleader would fit too.

“When we messed up, she got on us. And when we did good she cheered for us,” Ashley said. “In the game, you would always hear her, no matter what. She would never have a game where she was just quiet.”

Ashley said her mom pushed her more than she ever pushed herself. The same applies to schoolwork now that Tavian is gone.

“At first I didn’t want to do nothing,” Ashley said. “But now I’m trying to get the hang of things and get back in the groove. It was tough at first, but now I’m trying to push through.”

The Bearcats are 11-3 and ranked fourth in the state among 5A schools, with a good shot to win Region 4-5A again. Ashley, who has a 3.91 GPA and also plays soccer, excels at defense for coach Kenny Orr’s basketball team. Two of Ashley’s closest friends on the team are Rana Davis-Robinson and McPhail. Tavian was interested in their development and not just Ashley’s.

“When I would get in the car after practice she would ask me ‘how did Rana do?’ not even how did I do,” Ashley said laughing. “Or ‘how did Erika do?’”

Orr said Tavian was never a parent that caused trouble or complained about Ashley’s playing time. She was just one that always wanted to know what she could do to help.

“She would offer to drive me home from games,” McPhail said. “She would make us snacks in the summer. She would always tell jokes to make us laugh. I think about her and Ashley before games, because we would always look over and see her there. Ashley broke down before the first game without her there.”

“Outside she always seems happy”

Tavian was almost like a big sister to Orr, and her death has been hard on him too.

“This particular game I noticed she wasn’t there,” he said. “And it was one of the worst games I’ve ever seen Ashley play, so I knew something wasn’t right. Well, her momma had been admitted to the hospital the day before. And the next day, right before our next game, her brother and grandma came and said Ashley had to go with them to the hospital.”

Orr got the team together and they prayed for Tavian and her family and then played one of their best games, hitting 18 three-pointers against Blythewood.

“We played that game for her mom and we got the win for her,” Davis-Robinson said. “The next day, when Coach told us she passed, we took it hard. That’s the nicest woman you’d ever meet. She didn’t just cheer for Ashley. And she was always the first one there, at games or practices.”

Orr said he’s amazed at how strong Ashley has been through the ordeal. Three days after Tavian’s passing, Ashley showed up for team pictures and she played in their next game the day after the funeral.

“She always has a smile on her face,” Thompson said. “I’ve never seen her crying. She was down for that week, but we’ve made sure we held her up. I don’t know what she’s dealing with inside, but outside she always seems happy.”

Ashley may be strong and mature beyond her years, but she said Orr has been a big help to her as well.

“He was always with me during the tough times, and even now he’s more mindful of me,” she said. “He’s always checking in about how I’m doing. They were like brother and sister, so it took a toll on him too.”

The team doesn’t use the loss as an outward rallying cry, because Ashley doesn’t feel comfortable talking about it in front of everybody.

“It was awkward at first, because she holds her feelings in,” McPhail said. “We didn’t bring it up that much. We just made sure we were there for her. We are good friends outside of basketball, so I invite her to my house to keep her mind off of it. But she lost a parent, so she’s going to need certain things.”

The team doesn’t write Tavian on their shoes, yell her name in huddles, or have it written on any signs anywhere, like you might see sometimes. But Coach Orr does mention her, and they do look over at where she always sat during games, cheering for each one of them. Just like a Team Mom.

Local region standings (as of Jan. 10, 2018)

Region 4-5A

Girls

Nation Ford

1-0

10-4

Clover

1-0

8-6

Fort Mill

0-0

8-5

Rock Hill

0-1

10-3

Northwestern

0-1

4-9

Boys

Clover

1-0

10-5

Nation Ford

1-0

9-6

Fort Mill

0-0

6-6

Northwestern

0-1

6-8

Rock Hill

0-1

2-10

Region 3-4A

Girls

Westwood

2-0

13-1

Richland Northeast

1-1

10-2

South Pointe

1-1

12-5

Lancaster

1-1

7-3

Ridge View

1-1

8-5

York

0-2

3-12

Boys

Ridge View

2-0

9-5

South Pointe

1-1

8-7

York

1-1

8-8

Westwood

1-1

5-9

Richland Northeast

1-1

2-9

Lancaster

0-2

4-5

Region 4-3A

Girls

Fairfield Central

2-0

6-6

Columbia

1-1

3-11

Chester

1-1

1-14

Camden

0-1

5-4

Indian Land

0-1

0-10

Boys

Columbia

2-0

4-14

Camden

1-0

6-5

Chester

1-1

10-4

Indian Land

0-1

4-9

Fairfield Central

0-2

1-10

Region 2-A

Girls

Timmonsville

1-0

5-6

Lewisville

1-0

3-8

McBee

0-0

5-8

Lamar

0-0

4-9

Great Falls

0-1

1-9

Governor’s School

0-1

0-7

Boys

Great Falls

1-0

10-3

McBee

1-0

9-5

Lewisville

1-0

7-6

Governor’s School

0-1

3-4

Timmonsville

0-1

4-7

Lamar

0-1

2-8

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