MERIDIAN Tiffany Walters is still very much a part of the Mountain View High volleyball team.
Three pictures of Walters hang on the wall in the school gymnasium, two with special messages from teammates and one of her in a Mavericks uniform.
She is smiling, blond and beautiful in all of them just the way teammates remember her.
Walters died around 2 a.m. Sept. 9 in a car accident near Table Rock that killed a second Mountain View student.
Walters was 17 and her team has spent the past month balancing grief with what is supposed to be a carefree, exciting time in their lives.
Madison Lewis hasnt gone a day without thinking about her best friend, teammate and fellow senior.
Its really been hard for me. Going to classes and knowing that this is our senior year together and trying to make the best out of it, Lewis said. I just know that she would want me to push through. I think about her every day and all the memories that weve had together.
Teammates say Walters had a way of making them laugh at the perfect moment. Whether it was in the midst of a conditioning drill or after a tough loss, Walters knew how to make her teammates smile.
She had such good timing with her jokes, senior Kelsey McMorrow said. After a loss we would be in a huddle and all frustrated and mad and she would come in and say something ridiculous or make some joke and we would all be laughing and forget about why we were frustrated.
Walters who was the Mavericks 6-foot-2 starting middle blocker got along with everybody.
She liked dirty jokes. She would do anything to make you feel uncomfortable or make you feel awkward, but at the same time you are having fun with her, Lewis said.
She loved to make people smile. She loved to dance. She and I would do interpretive dancing across the court. Shed stick her tongue out at people just to make them laugh. If youre on the court and youre having a bad day, shed come and talk to you and make you feel better.
Getting back on the volleyball court has been a team process. There are good days and bad days.
It was one of the toughest things I think any of us have ever had to do is step back on the court without her, knowing that shes not there, McMorrow said. I dont even know how we got through it. It was a lot of tears, a lot of struggles, but we came together and we were there for each other the whole time.
In the first match after Walters death, coach Cathy Curtis kept Walters in the starting lineup.
I had to sub right away because you cant play with five players, Curtis said. ... The officials are crying, then an opponent starts crying and the (scorers) table is crying. Everybody is crying.
The first few points were just horrendous and then they started to play a little bit. It took us about two weeks to even be able to really look like a volleyball team just because we fought our emotions so much.
Walters, McMorrow and Lewis were honored with their Senior Night on Tuesday. Walters jersey was presented in a shadow box along with the traditional senior gift basket.
The Mavericks regular season ends with a home game against Capital on Thursday, and the 5A District Three tournament starts Saturday.
The kids have just been really amazingly strong. Most of them are 15-, 16-year-old kids. Its hard for an adult, but for them, its just monumental, Curtis said. You never expect a friend to die. They are supposed to live forever. Its the old people that die. This is a real eye opener for them that everybody dies. Mortality kind of came into them.
Since her death, a poster of Walters accompanies the team to each game. Players chant her name before the start of every match.
She was just such an essential and irreplaceable part of this team. We will never be able to be the same without her, but we have so much talent and such great girls that have been able to step in and not replace her, but fill in the hole that shes left, McMorrow said.
Mountain View has won only one 5A Southern Idaho Conference match since Walters death, and lost in five sets to Meridian on Tuesday night. The teams season could end as soon as early next week, or extend into the state tournament in two weeks if it gets hot.
We have been struggling with the wins, but thats not what were concerned with right now, McMorrow said. Just getting on the court and playing through our emotions has been a victory for us.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422,Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX