Local volleyball team comes together to pay tribute to beloved coach who passed suddenly

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OLATHE, Kan. – The Heritage Christian Academy Varsity Volleyball team paid tribute to one of their own Tuesday night. It was the team’s first home game without their coach, 46-year-old Janice Van Gorp, who died last month.

“She taught us how to be young ladies that were good on and off the court,” said C.J. Sherman, who played under Van Gorp for nine seasons. “To go from being sort of like my hero, to a coach, to my very good friend it was a great transition and an honor.”

The beloved volleyball coach and former Iowa State volleyball player died from a brain aneurysm and leaves behind her husband and two young children. Tuesday, her team retired her jersey but not before wearing it one last time on the court.

Friends and teammates describe Van Gorp as a woman who paid it forward and encouraged others to do the same.

“She was big on, you know, I taught you this, you succeeded [now] let’s do it for somebody else,” said Sherman. “Let’s make it special for somebody else too.”

Van Gorp was also an English teacher and teammates describe her as a mentor and friend.​

Teammates said this year they plan to make it to state, in hopes of making Van Gorp's dream come true.