Cavanaugh defined real strength through her journey

Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 8:31 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -Four-time All-American and WKU Volleyball legend Alyssa Cavanaugh passed away Christmas morning at the age of 24. Cavanaugh left an everlasting impact on The Hill as a player and through her battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

“All of us in the time that we’re given on this earth is on a journey to try to find who we are and who we can be,” WKU Volleyball head coach Travis Hudson said. “Although her life was cut short, the journey to that never was for her because I think she found herself at a very young age. And I think she was proud of who she became. And I certainly know that I was proud of the kid that she became as well.”

Hudson said Cavanaugh’s competitiveness could always be felt by her teammates.

“When you were on the court with Alyssa Cavanaugh, you believed you had a chance,” Hudson said. “She had this unbelievable fire and competitiveness and will to go get what she wanted. She was the same way in life.”

“I’ve had so many little girls message me and say, you know, she’s the reason that I continue to play or I wear seven because of her,” said Cavanaugh’s former teammate and current WKU Volleyball assistant coach Jessica Lucas.

Cavanaugh was often talked about and described as a tough player, but during her battle with cancer, she showed what the word truly meant.

“There are things in life that are far more difficult than anything you’ll ever face in an athletic setting,” Hudson said.

For Cavanaugh, that was leukemia. Her fight showed Hudson and everyone around her the toughness she embodies.

“I saw her in her good days. I saw her in some of her dark days, and I could not get that kid to tell me she was struggling during all this,” Hudson said. “She was always in a place of positivity and strong will and what comes next.”

“Until I saw her fight through cancer I’m not sure I knew what strong was,” Lucas said.

Cavanaugh still impacts WKU’s volleyball program today. Hudson speaks of her to his team daily, but not because she was perfect or the gold standard.

“She was the kid that grew,” Hudson said. “She was the kid that it did change. She was the kid that became so much more than just a volleyball player. Those are the things that I will forever be the proudest of.”

Hudson said the volleyball program will honor Cavanaugh.

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