By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Totino Grace student who captured the spirit of her high school football team has been given an award after her death.

Rachel Woell, Eagles team’s football manager, bravely battled brain cancer until her death last September.

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Rachel and the team, or “her boys,” as she called them, were honored with the 2015 “National High School Spirit-of-Sport Award.”

Rachel’s mother, Yvette, believes the team earned this award by making Rachel feel loved and allowing her to be part of the team.

“It’s amazing to still see Rachel shining out there and being remembered,” her mother, Yvette, said. “It’s about learning about each other, caring about each other. It’s about love.”

Rachel was first diagnosed with brain cancer in second grade.

In fall 2013 a more aggressive tumor forced another round of radiation.

Despite the grueling treatment, Rachel never missed a practice or a game, even the day she died.

“I want people to know that there’s this little girl who was with a bunch of burly guys,” football coach Jeff Ferguson said. “She touched their hearts, and I think they touched her heart back, and the world is a better place because of it.”

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The team hopes this latest recognition of their bond with a brave girl who inspired others to be strong will remind people every day is a gift and to treasure those around you.

“I think it shows the immortality of the soul and of Rachel’s story and person,” Eagles player Joseph Weiler said.

The award is given in eight regions each year by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

A national winner will be named in June.


On Friday night, students tied blankets in the electric green color that Rachel loved.

Each blanket has her motto on it: “Every day is a gift.”

They’ll go to The Hope Lodge in Minneapolis and will be handed out to patients and families undergoing cancer treatment.

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This was made possible by the Schulze Family Foundation.

Jennifer Mayerle