Sisterly Love: Phoenix College volleyball star inspired by her sibling’s memory

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Chris Fahrendorf   College Times

While volleyball is just a sport for most athletes, for Tionna Hood it means much more.

The freshman on Phoenix College’s girls’ volleyball team lost her 24-year-old sister, Brett Singer, on September 7, 2014, to lupus at the end of her first year of high school.

Singer collapsed in the family’s bathroom, hit her head and was knocked unconscious. At the hospital, doctors found an aneurysm in her brain. She died three weeks later. 

Since then, Hood has dedicated her volleyball career to her sister. Hood admired Brett, who volunteered at their church and loved children.

“I looked up to her because she was just always happy no matter what she was going through,” Hood says. “She just always would find the good in life no matter what she was going through personally. You would never be able to know that she was going through something because her way of giving back was by helping others.”

After Singer’s death, Hood looked to her Dysart High School coach Tanner David and senior Rylee Halla for comfort. David was around the same age as Singer, and Hood immediately took to her because she reminded her so much of her sister.

“She was really motivating,” Hood says. “She really helped me get my mind off of it when I was sad. She was just a really motivated person like Brett was. They were very similar to me.”

Halla was also going through similar problems. Halla drew a symbol on her arm before games that meant “God is greater than the highs and lows.” Hood adopted the tradition.

Even though her sister’s death will always be in the back of her mind, Hood is dedicated to winning. During the season that recently wrapped, Phoenix College went 8-17 with a young roster of 13 freshmen and two sophomores. Hood believes that now that they have had a season under their belt, the team will only improve.

“Yes, this year didn’t go as we wanted, but it was kind of like a recouping year,” Hood says. “We just needed one year to get to know each other. I do believe that next year we will have a winning season.”

Although it took Hood and her family a long time to realize it, they now believe that some good actually came out of her sister’s death.

“It’s sad to say, but if Brett didn’t pass away, we feel like we wouldn’t be as close are we are now. It was like a blessing in disguise,” Hood says. “Obviously, we miss her, and we still love her, but we know that she wouldn’t want us to be sad all the time.” CT

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