Former Nevada softball player Jayme King, an inspiration throughout Northern Nevada for her grace, courage and determination during three battles with cancer, died on Tuesday, according to the University of Nevada.
She was 24.
A Fernley native, King was a multi-sport star at Fernley High School who played both volleyball and softball in one season at Shasta Junior College.
She transferred to Nevada in 2010-11 and played for the Wolf Pack in 2011, starting 36 games in her first year with the softball program.
That summer, she was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, in her knee. She underwent chemotherapy and then surgery, followed by another round of chemotherapy and, in 2012, doctors told her that her cancer was in remission. The cancer returned in 2013 and King endured another round of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
She was honored with Jayme King Day in 2014, a celebration surrounding a Wolf Pack softball game that drew thousands to Hixson Park. Nevada wore teal uniforms — her favorite color — to honor her. Among other festivities, she was presented with a framed jersey by her coaches and teammates.
“It was an honor to coach Jayme and have her touch our program,” said Matt Meuchel, Nevada’s softball coach. “She left a lasting mark on all of us in a way that so few do. We will miss her greatly and our prayers go out to the King family during this time.”
Another cancer diagnosis followed in 2014 but King, with the grit and determination that were the hallmarks of her character, maintained a focus completing her education with her sights set on returning home to Fernley to open a community recreation center. She earned her bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies from Nevada during University Commencement ceremonies in December of 2014.
“Jayme will always be remembered for her strength, courage, resilience and positive attitude,” said Tina Ruff, an associate athletics director at Nevada. “She is a true inspiration to us all in Wolf Pack athletics and we are very proud to have had her as one of our student-athletes and family member. Jayme will be truly missed.”
This spring, King was presented the inaugural winner of an award that bears her name during the athletics department inaugural Wolfie Awards. Moving forward, the Jayme King Inspiration Award will be presented annually to a Nevada student-athlete who exhibits courage in overcoming adversity, whether it be in athletics, academics or life.
“Do something every day that you wouldn’t normally do,” King told a crowd of more than 600 that night. “I sat in the seat you are sitting in as an athlete. I lived and breathed my sport. It was all I knew and nothing else could get in the way. When you hear `You have cancer,’ your life stops on a dime. If you can do it today, do it today. Don’t wait until tomorrow because life is the easiest thing to take for granted.”