‘She is still here’
GJ volleyball team remembers assistant coach Tammy Wells before match
Jeff Wells didn’t hesitate to talk about his wife’s favorite saying Tuesday night.
“Her favorite saying was, ‘Oh my stars,’ ” the head coach of the Grand Junction High School volleyball team said. “She’d go into huddles and say, ‘Oh my stars, what are you doin’?’ or ‘Oh my stars, knock it off!’ Everything was ‘Oh my stars.’
“That was her favorite thing to say. If someone had a problem, she’d be like, ‘Oh my stars. Let’s press on,’ ” he continued. “That was her phrase right out of the chute for everything. Just ‘Oh my stars, we can do better’ or ‘we can move forward.’ And it’s true, because we’re certainly not going to stop where we’re at.”
Before Grand Junction hosted its Southwestern League match against Montrose, the Tigers stopped to honor Tammy Wells, Jeff’s wife and the Tigers junior varsity volleyball coach. Tammy Wells died the night of Sept. 26 from complications stemming from a blood clot in her lungs, leaving the team, the athletic department and the school in shock.
Grand Junction used a pre-match ceremony to focus on the legacy Tammy left for the volleyball team and the school, and the Tigers left plenty of mementos to honor and remember her.
When they departed the locker room before the varsity match began, the Tigers’ players left roses in a basket on the end of the bench where Tammy used to sit. The school’s football team left practice early to be in the gym before the match started, with each player holding a rose to give to the volleyball players.
Before the match started, assistant coach Don Bavor, along with senior outside hitter Breck Smith, read passages from team members who were left with many fond memories of Tammy.
After hearing the passages, many players, coaches and spectators were left in tears.
Ashley Wells, Jeff and Tammy’s daughter, left college in Denver for the week to be Grand Junction’s JV coach in place of her mother.
“Its not only my family’s loss. It’s everybody she’s touched,” Ashley Wells said. “It’s their loss as well. I knew I needed to do this, not only for myself to cope with everything that’s going on, but also for my mom. And I needed the players to know she is still here, she believes in us and she’s always going to be here.
“Saturday will be interesting,” continued Ashley, referencing her mother’s funeral. “We’re a little nervous that we won’t have enough room. She’s touched so many lives.”
Grand Junction’s players weren’t told of Tammy’s death until after the Tigers’ three-set loss at Fruita Monument last week. Practice was canceled the next day, but the team pressed on to play its next scheduled match at Durango, a four-set loss to the Demons. Bavor served as the interim head coach for both matches.
Jeff Wells plans to press on and continue coaching the Tigers for the remainder of the year, saying it’s what Tammy would want. He also said his wife would be proud of the late effort the Tigers made against Montrose, reeling off a 9-0 run when the Indians were at match point before they completed their three-set sweep.
“She was always the one to tell us that it’s not about winning. It’s about playing as a team,” said Smith, who served on all nine Grand Junction points during the run. “I think that’s when we started playing as a team. I think it would have meant a lot for her to watch that. Actually, I know she was watching.”