It doesn’t take an extended search to get a sense of the community backing behind Hart junior volleyball player, Alyssa Cosey.
A scan of the school’s Twitter page, and you can find “#AlyssaStrong” and “#WeBelieveIn17” in the bio.
Or go to a Hart volleyball game, and you’ll see No. 17 — Alyssa’s number — written on players’ hands and “#AlyssaStrong” t-shirts are donned across the gym by players, parents and students alike.
Or if you find yourself at a Foothill League volleyball game that doesn’t include Hart, the teams will likely be dedicating the game to Cosey or holding a fundraiser of some sort.
Since Cosey was diagnosed with leukemia in late June, the support from the Santa Clarita Valley has been “overwhelming,” according to her parents, Robin and Gerald.
“I’m a firefighter by trade, so for the past 30-plus years I’ve been in a profession dealing with people in need,” Gerald said. “I’m not really used to being on the other side of it.”
The Coseys were shifted to that other side after Alyssa developed a headache while the family was in Orlando, Florida, watching her sister, Ashley, a senior at Hart, take part in a club volleyball tournament.
When over-the-counter medicine didn’t relieve the headache, the family made a trip to the emergency room. It was there doctors identified Alyssa had a low platelet count and Gerald and Robin soon after were informed of the diagnosis.
The parents felt it best to break the news closer to home, so Gerald and Robin booked a direct flight to Los Angeles. It was there, at Children’s Hospital, specifically, that they shared the diagnosis with their daughters.
“We were together as a family in the hospital room, just holding hands and crying,” Ashley said. “The first thing she did was take a deep breath and say, ‘I got this, let’s stay positive.’ That’s the strongest I’ve ever seen her.”
Alyssa was going to have to be strong.
While students were enjoying their summer break, Alyssa was waking up at 8 a.m. to make the drive to Children’s Hospital LA to receive chemotherapy, blood transfusions and whatever else that week of treatment entailed.
She was never alone, though.
Groups of friends poured into the Cosey home over the summer, dropping off teddy bears that lined shelves and enough food to stock the family with leftovers for weeks.
“It meant the world to me,” Alyssa said. “It was nice just to know my friends were going to be with me every step of the way through recovery.”
As the school year and volleyball season started, Alyssa was relegated to the Hart Unified School District’s homeschooling program.
Still, she was far from alone.
Friends continued to pour in with food during their lunch breaks while the school district and children’s hospital were attentive to every need. The Los Angeles Volleyball Academy and Legacy Volleyball Club frequently donated to Alyssa’s cause.
The Hart girls volleyball team dedicated its season to Alyssa and launched a “Kills for Cancer” fundraiser which, partnered with other fundraisers, has raised $9,000 to donate to Children’s Hospital LA.
It’s no coincidence Ashley set the school’s kills record (25) against Valencia last month with the “Kills for Cancer” fundraiser in full swing, and Alyssa in attendance.
“Volleyball has been my getaway,” she said. “Anytime we step onto the court, everything we do is for Alyssa.”
Alyssa was a regular contributor to the varsity team as a sophomore, serving mostly at setter. Her impact on the team this season has been greater than anything she’s done to date, though.
“Anytime you go through a traumatic experience like this, it brings people together,” said Indians volleyball coach Mary Irilian. “The girls have rallied behind her.”
The volleyball team’s support was just a microcosm for what the Coseys felt from the community.
“People who didn’t even know us just wanted to reach out and let us know they were praying for Alyssa’s recovery,” Robin said. “Those kinds of things go a long way in helping us all keep positive thoughts, especially Alyssa.”
The recovery took a step in the right direction when the leukemia went into remission within a month after the original diagnosis. If all goes well, Alyssa will be able to return to campus next semester.
And a possible return to volleyball is certainly on the docket.
“When we go down to Children’s Hospital every week there are kids in same treatment rooms and some are getting better and some aren’t,” Gerald said. “That’s a real eye-opener. You have to count your blessings that you have a positive course.”
No matter where that course leads, you can count on an army of support behind the Coseys.