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Memories with smiles

It was a celebration of sorts.

It was a celebration of the life of Keeley Dorsey, whose sudden death took from the world a vibrant, energetic 19-year-old student-athlete who was living a dream.

Dorsey’s dream was to play Division-I football at the University of South Florida, and he realized that dream for one year. With an estimated 800 people in attendance at Dorsey’s memorial service at the Sun Dome Corral on Thursday, it was evident that Dorsey had an impact on many people.

There were jokes told during the many speeches from people such as USF coach Jim Leavitt and Lincoln High School football coach David Wilson. However, there were few laughs and many more tears.

Wide receiver Taurus Johnson was visibly distraught at the mention of Dorsey’s name and the many pictures that plastered The Corral. Even though Dorsey would want people to be happy, it was hard to crack a smile.

Dorsey’s death doesn’t make sense and leaves more questions than answers with his family and teammates.

How does an apparently healthy young athlete die? Why has a life been lost so soon?

This is a tragedy that will ultimately bring together not just the football team, but the entire athletics program. All athletics, from the men’s and women’s basketball teams to the tennis and volleyball teams, were represented.

“When you are in the athletics building, there is a lot of love from all the athletes,” junior wide receiver Amarri Jackson said. “I believe it will draw us closer because a lot of athletes walk around the facility and don’t know each other – just speak to each other and keep moving. I think a lot of people are going to want to know people instead of just ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye.'”

Even though signing day for recruits is less than two weeks away, this summer is going to be one full of healing. Leavitt was unable to push through his speech and ended up cutting it short, walking slowly back to his seat. For Leavitt, this is a situation that he can’t explain with game plans and will struggle to move on from.There was a bright spot after the memorial from Jackson, who had a funny story about Dorsey and himself during the season. The laughter and smile on Jackson’s face celebrated a bright and funny teammate.

“My favorite memory of Keeley, which made me smile today, was when we missed the bus for a home game against Syracuse going downtown to stay in a hotel,” Jackson said. “We were going to get money from the Bank of America and my card got stuck. So the coaches and players kept calling and we kept making excuses until the bus left so we had to drive to the hotel.”

The most important message during the two-hour ceremony was delivered by Dorsey’s father, Claude Terrell. Terrell said that Dorsey lived his life to the fullest and took advantage of his opportunities.

“Don’t be sad for Keeley; celebrate his life and be happy when thinking about his life,” Terrell said. “He did what he had to do before he had to go.”

Dorsey had a smile on his face during his recruiting trip to USF and again when he was accepted. After scoring his only touchdown of the season, a 52-yard run against McNeese State, Dorsey had a smile on his face as well.

It was Dorsey’s smile that lit up a room and defined his attitude toward life. For a few minutes during and after the ceremony, Dorsey’s teammates, classmates, family and friends celebrated his life the way he would want them to.

With a smile.