CAMAS – The Camas girls soccer team wore its heart on its sleeve Thursday.
During its 7-0 win over Reynolds High of Troutdale, Ore., the team’s heart was with the De Vera family.
The Papermakers wore black armbands to honor Alicea De Vera, who died Monday due to complications from brain cancer.
The De Vera family’s ties to the Camas soccer program, and the community in general, are deep.
Alicea, who graduated from Camas High in June, was often on the sidelines at Doc Harris Stadium as a cheerleader.
Three of Alicea’s four older siblings played soccer for Camas. All went on to play collegiately.
Niko De Vera helped the Papermakers to a perfect season and the Class 3A state title in 2011, scoring 13 goals as a freshman. He went on to play four years at Akron University and is now pursuing a pro soccer career with T2 in the Portland Timbers organization.
Anyssa De Vera helped Camas place third in the 4A state tournament in 2015 before playing at Grand Canyon University. Kaeliana De Vera played for Eastern Oregon from 2012-14.
The De Vera family, including parents Arnel and Danita, were at Doc Harris Stadium on Thursday, including for a pregame moment of silence. Camas players stood solemnly, some wiping away tears.
“It shows how each person can really leave their mark here,” Niko De Vera said. “Alicea never played soccer, but it just shows how good Camas is as a school and a community. It’s not just one specific sport, but as a whole how they all support each other.”
Niko De Vera said the support of the community and the soccer program has been vital to the family.
“At one point I had to turn my phone off because it was overheating, so many people were reaching out,” he said. “It’s amazing how many people care and had positive things to say about her.”
Alicea De Vera was supposed to be a freshman at Boise State this fall. But life threw her a curveball when she was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer this summer. She began daily radiation and chemotherapy on Aug. 28.
To lift her spirits, De Vera’s parents drove Alicia to Boise last weekend to pay a surprise visit to some of her friends. But Sunday, during the drive home, Alicea suffered a brain hemorrhage. She was life-flighted to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, where she died on Monday.
A GoFundMe account has been established to aid the De Vera Family. By Thursday evening, it had raised more than $22,000.
“If you knew her and got to talk to her, she never complained about one thing,” Niko De Vera said. “When she was sick, nothing was ever a complaint. Until the day she passed, out of everyone in my family, she had the most faith through it all. She was a very positive spirit.”
And Alicea’s spirit was there at Doc Harris Stadium on Thursday.
“Whenever you walked into a room with her, you would feel something you couldn’t explain,” Anyssa De Vera said. “She had something special.”
Camas improved to 2-0 with the win. Kiya Gramps had a hat trick and Jasmine Whittington added two goals as the Papermakers scored five times in the second half.