As the clock ran out on the final game of her four-year high school basketball career, 17-year-old Racquel Elardo took her last shot from the three-point line, sinking the game-winning basket for the Heritage High varsity girls basketball team. Sheknew the second the ball left her hands that it was a winner, but it hasn’t been all wins for the Virginia teen over the last few years.
Back in 2019, Rocky as she likes to be called was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, an extremely rare tumor that affects the bones and body’s soft tissue. Her freshman and sophomore years, she did chemo and then underwent radiation her junior year, bookended by surgeries her freshman and senior years. But throughout the ordeal, whenever she was physically able, she was at basketball practice with her team.
Rocky’s assistant coach, Ariel McKinney, called her the “rock” the whole team knows they can lean on. “No matter how bad she's felt on any given day, she has been at every practice in the last four years that she can physically be at, in every game with a positive outlook,” McKinney says, adding, “Not just on the game, but on life.” Just before the game, doctors told Rocky that they didn’t detect any cancer in the teen and gave her the “all clear” to play the last game of the season. And just like she’s done for the last four years, she showed up and was the rock for her team.