Thursday, May 17, 2001

Family, teachers recall girl's basketball prowess

By Amanda York
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HEBRON — For Principal Michael Blevins, Wednesday night's memorial service in Conner High School's gymnasium was something that, unfortunately, has become “too common” for him.

        Mr. Blevins said that in the last three school years, Conner has lost three students — one each year — in auto accidents.

Rebekah Lynn Randall
        Rebekah Lynn Randall became the third early Saturday morning when she struck a tree with her car while traveling west on Petersburg Road. Relatives said she had spent the night with a friend and was on her way home at about 6 a.m. Boone County police said the accident is under investigation.

        “It's a tragedy any time a young person dies needlessly,” Mr. Blevins said.

        Hundreds of students, teachers and family members flooded the Paul E. Hogan Auditorium in the school's gymnasium Wednesday. As students left the viewing, they wrote memories of Ms. Randall in a book.

        Ms. Randall's older brother, Aaron, remembers his sister for her sharp wit, good nature and the close relationship she shared with their father, Ronnie.

        Aaron Randall jokingly called his sister a “daddy's girl.” He said his sister and father did almost everything together. Ms. Randall had even planned to work with her father this summer at Meyer Tool in Cincinnati.

        She also shared a close relationship with her mother, Lynda. Jennifer Kleier, Aaron Randall's girlfriend and friend of Ms. Randall, said the two would often go shopping together.

Rebekah played defense for the Connor girls' varsity basketball team
        Her brother also remembers the way the 17-year-old junior played defense for the girls' varsity basketball team. He said the small forward was awarded Best Defensive Player at the team's banquet this year.

        Coach Carmen Shannon of Covington said Rebekah was the Lady Cougars player who had the unenviable job of guarding the premier player on the opposing team.

        “Her role was to be the defensive stopper. As I told the kids tonight, she had the dirty job on the team,” Coach Shannon said.

        “She never got the glory because she was more of a defensive specialist,” Coach Shannon said. But she started in the district and regional tournaments.

        Coach Shannon is going to award a Defensive Specialist Award every year in Rebekah's name and will establish a memorial scholarship fund to be given to a senior athlete in the graduating class of 2002.

        Rebekah played for the team on and off the court.

[photo] Chuck Mullins pauses Wednesday at a memorial erected along Petersburg Road at the site of the car accident that killed his niece, Conner High School junior Rebekah Lynn Randall, on Saturday.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        “The day after our sports banquet Rebekah came to my school and gave me flowers and a gift certificate and apologized on behalf of the team because the team had forgotten to have something there for me,” Coach Shannon said.

        Ms. Randall's teammates wore small white ribbons pinned to their clothes in memory of her. They will wear black ribbons on their jerseys next season.

        Todd Shupe, vice principal, said he was always impressed with Ms. Randall's performance on the basketball court. He said she played “all out, in-your-face basketball,” and that she never slacked off on defense.

        Ms. Randall didn't slack off in the classroom either. She had a 3.84 grade-point average. Her brother said she planned to take some college courses this fall at Northern Kentucky University.

        Tina Taylor, a business teacher at Conner, described Ms. Randall as an “A-plus student.” She had Ms. Randall in class last semester.

        Ms. Taylor said it had been a rough week at Conner. In an effort to help students deal with this tragedy, Mr. Blevins said the school had brought in counselors, psychologists and ministers to counsel the students.

        Teachers have been helping, too. Ms. Taylor said she spent most of Monday consoling friends of Ms. Randall.

        “You just hold them and let them cry,” she said. “You let them know they have a place to go if they just need someplace to be.”

        The holding and consoling continued into Wednesday evening's service as Ms. Taylor, along with other teachers, consoled Ms. Randall's classmates.

        It was sadly similar to the time they spent with the classmates of Phil Battaglia in May 2000 and Terry Byrne in December 1998, the previous Conner students killed in auto accidents.

        “It just gets harder and harder,” Ms. Taylor said as she held a weeping Conner student in her arms.

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