VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Located just a half-mile from Building Two of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, Floyd E. Kellam High School sits in the shadows of the site of the city's darkest day.
"These are people's family members, cousins, aunts - their next-door neighbor," explained Kellam senior soccer player Kennedy Dunnings. "To know that's so close to home, that it happens here - it's devastating."
As they grieve along with their neighbors, a pair of Kellam athletics teams hope some wins can provide a pick-me-up after so much tragic loss.
"To win states is going to help our community come together," noted Kellam senior softball player Hannah Lepkowski. "We represent our little town that is now national."
Kellam's girls soccer team, 19-and-0 on the season, and its softball team, 22-and-0 on the season, each open play in the Class 6 state tournament Tuesday night. They're three wins away from a state championship.
The Knights soccer team faces Colonial Forge at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The softball team draws Cosby at the same time.
"Actually, I'm a Kellam alumna, so I'm happy to be part of this program again," admitted Kellam head softball coach Lori Gavin. "And I'm really proud of these girls - how they're representing themselves and their school."
"We really can bring a lot for the community if we win and continue to win," added Kellam senior soccer player Sophie Brophy. "It would mean a lot."
The lone state title for the Kellam girls soccer program came back in 2005. The softball team hasn't won it all since 2007. What a week this would be to make history.
"It's so much motivation," admitted Kellam junior softball player Brooke Cannon. "Our whole team, we've had so much motivation, from game one of the season."
"I just knew, our team, not necessarily going undefeated - I didn't think that, but I knew something great was going to happen to this group," Kellam junior softball player Brooklynn Maxwell said.
"We've grown as the season has progressed," noted Kellam head girls soccer coach, Mario Hurdle. "I think they know what their goal and objective is."
A pair of programs that can each bring a bit of brightness from the shadows of a horrific event.
UPDATE (Tuesday, 8:45 p.m.): Kellam's girls soccer team is victorious Tuesday, advancing to Friday's state semifinal. However, the Kellam softball team sees its season end in Tuesday's state quarterfinal.