SARASOTA, Fla. -- As the high school football preseason kicks off Friday night, one Suncoast team will be playing with some heavy hearts.
The Riverview Rams will remember the life of 17-year-old Teria’le Rawls, a varsity cheerleader who would have been a senior this year, but was shot to death last month.
It will no doubt be a somber evening at the Ram Bowl, as so many will look just behind the Rams sideline and not hear Teria’le’s recognizable cheers and see a smile that could light up a room -- or in this case, a stadium.
When the Rams storm on to the field Friday night, they'll be wearing their hearts on their helmets. A sticker of a blue, cheer megaphone will be displayed on the back of each one.
Blue was Rawls’s favorite color, and according to running back Karan Higdon, you could always hear that booming voice. “It stuck out and it pushed you to get through things even when moments get tough.”
This is one of those tough moments. “I can't imagine what it's going to be like without her. I still can't believe she's not here,” says head coach Todd Johnson.
The young life was taken far too soon, as the innocent victim of a shooting last month outside of a movie theater in Bradenton. “There will be tears, but they will also be celebratory of her life...and not just the tragic way she died, but the wonderful way she lived,” says cheerleading coach Amy Early.
Before Friday's game, her friends on the cheerleading squad tied blue bows to their hair, with her name on each. They also placed a memento in the school's trophy case: her uniform and pom-poms.
“She was a big asset. She encouraged all of us so much. She told us we could do it, even if we couldn't. Everything was so funny around her,” says cheerleader Delany Parkes.
And it's those funny moments teammates and friends will try to remember, on a night there will be a huge void behind the sideline.
Teria’le’s family will be recognized on the field before the game.
Kickoff is set for 7:30pm.