Battle football team rallies around coach's wife

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COLUMBIA - For many high school sports, the team comes first.

But for Battle High School, it goes a little bit beyond just the team. For Battle it's all about family. And maybe no one represents family more for Battle than Heather Morris. She's the wife of assistant offensive line coach Mike Morris and starting linebacker Tre Morris. Most Friday nights you'll find Heather in the stands cheering on the Spartans to victory. But while she is cheering for the team, many of the players and fans are cheering on Heather for a victory of her own.

On July 20, Heather went to visit the doctor to check out a lump on her breast. Heather had told her husband Mike not to come to the checkup because she didn't think anything would come of it.

"Thankfully my husband that day didn't listen to me and came and met me at the doctor's office," Heather Morris said.

The results came in. Heather had stage three breast cancer.

"I mean it's just something that's very unexpected," Mike Morris said. "We were just shocked. Somebody so young. She's fairly healthy and everything else so she hasn't had any in her family that she knew of, anything like that so it was very, very unexpected when we found out. It was kind of a big shock."

After the diagnosis, both Mike and Heather knew they had to tell their family. And that meant their Battle family as well.

"I'm sitting here on the phone back from Jeff City and I'm trying to fight back tears while he is tearing up and I can hear it in his voice," Battle head coach Justin Conyers said. "A very, very emotional moment for the both us and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Like I said, this is our family."

So the team decided to take action. They bought pink wristbands, mouth guards, socks, and shoelaces; anything they could find that was pink. They even made a pink team Heather t-shirt to show their support.

"I didn't tell anybody about it whenever I ordered the stuff. I didn't want to tell anybody because I wanted it to be a surprise, and the first night that we wore it was our first home game," Conyers said. "She showed up and walked into the stadium, you know we were kind of waiting on her because we wanted her to be able to see it and she broke down into tears so right then and there so you know knew we were doing the right thing."

Beyond just the t-shirts and pink attire, many of the Battle coaches and players participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to support Heather in her fight against breast cancer.

"It was just like once again and so many of them made efforts to get there and be there for me Saturday there were just amazing," Heather Morris said.

The following week, Battle hosted a pink out game in honor of Heather with a special cheer routine and signs at the game showing the Battle community is behind her.

"Every time I turn around everybody does something else that I'm just like, you guys, you are just amazing," Heather Morris said.

Heather has even reached outside the Battle community with her story.

"One of the players from Rock Bridge actually asked my husband if he could meet me after the Rock Bridge game," Heather Morris said. "And that was just so touching to me to see a 17-year old student come up to my husband and say I've heard about your wife and I've heard about Heather and I'd like to meet her. That just blew me away, that's just awesome."

So the Spartans will continue to battle, not just for victories, but for Heather as well.