Rachel Presley honors late father with 2021 season

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 7:13 PM EDT
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LONDON, Ky. (WYMT) - Rachel Presley won the 13th Region tournament MVP, helping lead South Laurel to back-to-back girls’ 13th Region crowns. The win was the culmination of all of Presley’s perseverance after her father, Russ Presley, died suddenly on December 2, 2020.

“Well, it was really sudden, like there weren’t any problems before that had happened, so it was even more of a shock than people realized I guess,” Presley said on her father’s death.

“When she told me - she had called me early that morning to tell me what had happened, and it kinda shocks you and you don’t know what to think,” said Chris Souder, South Laurel’s girls’ basketball head coach.

“Her dad was her best friend. It was definitely a very close father-daughter bond there,” sophomore teammate Clara Collins added.

Russ Presley was more than just Rachel’s dad, but he cared for all the girls on the team.

“I spent my whole summer - we played together and you know, her dad was at every tournament with us,” Bree Howard said, a senior guard for the Lady Cardinals.

“He didn’t just love me, he loved everybody,” Presley added.

Throughout the season, Presley stepped up and pushed through with the help of her coaches, teammates and family.

“They really helped me in ways I’d never thought. They all came to my house, almost all of them came to my house,” Presley said of the support from her coaches and teammates.

“Here’s your father who just passed away, abruptly and she had to do the CPR and that’s something that’ll never leave her mind I’m sure,” Souder said. “But the way she accepted the leadership role then, in her family as well. Her mom just talked about that she just kinda took over, and that’s something that I think her dad instilled in her.”

Presley’s performance in the 13th Region tournament brought joy to everyone in the South Laurel community.

“When she got the MVP, when she’d done so good, I was just so happy for her because she had worked so hard to get there for him, and then she did it,” freshman teammate Kylie Clem said. “She felt like she made him proud, and that just made me over the top for her.”

Presley returns to South Laurel for her senior season looking to get the Lady Cards to Rupp Arena for the third straight season, all while carrying on her dad’s legacy.

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