“About life, I think whenever you’re sick, and you get stuff you love taken away from you, you actually appreciate it a lot more, ” says Courtlynn Havard, pitcher for the Franklin Parish softball team. 

Havard was introduced to adversity and refused to give up. 

“A year ago, they told me that I was probably not going to be able to play softball again, and I told them that I’m going to be back on that softball field, ” Havard continues. 

At 15 yeas old, Havard was forced to battle something no teen should go through. 

“I actually had a kidney stone, ” says Havard. “Then we went back to the doctor and they sent me to a specialist. And, they at first thought I had leukemia. And, we finally figured out I had Anemia Paroxysmsal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria.”

“And, she didn’t have a match in the donor system, ” says Jamie Havard, Courtlynn’s mother. “So, she couldn’t do a transplant.”

“Honestly Courtlynn is my best friend, ” says Hail Reeves, Courtlynn’s friend and teammate. “We’ve been friends for a very long time.”

Reeves, Courtlynn’s teammate in life, softball and soccer at Franklin Parish High School. But, Reeves was forced to fight at a young age. 

“I was actually born with Gastrochesis, ” says Reeves. “It’s a birth defect in the abdominal wall. My uterus, my intestines, and my stomach were on the outside of my body. And, they weren’t sure that I was going to live past a couple of weeks.” 

Reeves has since been healed. But, she remained by Havard’s side who was still receiving treatment. 

“Blood transfusions daily, ” says Havard. “Almost platelet transfusions almost every week.” 

After sitting out a year Havard was once again cleared to play softball. But, it wasn’t easy. 

“She still had her port in, ” says Jamie Havard. “And, like, ‘No, because, you got your port and if it gets hit, then you got to go into a surgery.”

The Havards had a plan.

“She got home and talked to Tyson, her dad, about it, ” says Jamie. “He made a thing that protects the port, made out of some metal and stuffed some cotton in it, ” says Courtlynn. 

“Just made this port protector, ” Jamie says. “And, they let her get back at it.”

Havard returned to the diamond the same year the Lady Patriots recorded their best season yet.

“You got to learn to do things a little bit differently, ” says Courtlynn. “How you usually block up a ball. You let it hit you in the chest, try to avoid that during the softball season, because that’s when I had my surgery to get the port removed. That healing process, you got to re-learn how to do everything. You can’t let your stitches pop out and pop open.”

Franklin Parish’s season ended as a state-runner up to North DeSoto. But, the real prize for Havard and Reeves came when both signed to continue their career with Southern Arkansas University-Tech in Camden. 

“Being able to take this next step with her is very exciting, because we’ve always been there for each other, ” says Courtlynn. 

“Being able to move in with somebody I’m close with, somebody I’m close with will make moving away a little bit better and feel more like at home.”