California player wears pink socks for deceased mother
MONITEAU - When the calendar pages flip to October, the colors you normally think of are red, brown, and orange.
But Breast Cancer Awareness Month has brought a new color to that palette: pink.
"Everyone has somebody in the family that's been touched by cancer in some way," California High School football head coach Marty Albertson said.
And a person who has been directly affected is one of Albertson's own players: junior Cord Mitchell, whose mother, Linda, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2002.
In her memory, Mitchell wears pink socks with the cancer ribbon on the back.
"She basically had it my whole life," Mitchell said.
Mitchell was always by her side.
"In a way, I knew there was something wrong," Mitchell said. "I basically made sure she was always with me."
The two of them found an activity they could do together to try and get away from it all: camping.
"She loved nature," Mitchell said. "I like fishing. Just sitting out there for hours, it's just peaceful I guess."
After a little while, Linda Mitchell's cancer was gone. But it came back again in the form of lung cancer and continued to spread.
"In August of 2007, she got it in her knee and that was when the doctor said she only had 6 months to live," Mitchell said.
She passed away on August 24, 2007.
"It's obviously hard," Mitchell said. "I knew she was sick but I was too young to understand the full concept that she was dying."
Mitchell said losing her left a void in his life.
"The most difficult part was definitely just not having someone to go to just how someone would do with their mother," Mitchell said. "But I'd say I had my brother so we dealt with it pretty good."
Albertson said as a coach, he pays extra attention to a player who has gone through what Mitchell has.
"Losing a parent when you're really young, that's tough," Albertson said. "He's a great kid and you just feel for kids like that because that is something that they go through and sometimes it takes some extra love to go through that type of situation."
But Mitchell has had years to absorb the loss and has grown to accept it. If he ever is feeling down anymore, football and his teammates are there to help.
"I'd say it gives me something to do, clears my mind, just helps me be a part of something else," Mitchell said. "It really is a family. You play together. If you're not together you don't make it."
"These kids are all brothers out here and kind of take care of each other's back on and off the field," Albertson said. "That gives him an extended family."
That togetherness paid off for the Pintos on the field. California is currently undefeated at 9-0 while being the number one seeded team for the Class 3, District 6 playoffs. Through this great run, Mitchell thinks of his mom.
"Oh yeah, every day. All of it."