March 28 2019 10:00 AM

The Most Valuable Player award, both on and off the basketball court, goes to my Jersey girl, Cassie Ann Bohnert.

Earlier this month, my daughter Cassie's basketball team had their first loss. It was a tough loss. The girls left with poor attitudes, and the coach was not happy. I was out of town for work, but I heard all about it from my daughter and her teammates.

When I got back, I told Cassie that her Grandpa Bob would tell her to keep her head up, that attitude is everything, and that today is a new day.

The team they lost to was the exact same team they would play again, this time on their home court. I told her to play tough and reminded her that, "Nobody comes on your court and wins without a fight, so find that inner farm girl toughness and play hard!"

She did just that.

Cassie never gave up. With seconds left on the clock, up by 10 points, she was playing with all her heart and not letting her guard down.

Sadly, she collided midair with an opposing player, with both girls hitting their heads hard. Cassie ended up on the floor, bleeding and sobbing. The clock stopped and everyone knew Cassie was indeed hurt. I was summoned from the stands to come down to the court.

When she walked off, wiping her tears, she told me, “Grandpa Bob would be proud.”

I nearly lost it.

Four hours in the emergency room and five stitches later, Cassie was on her way to feeling better. I told her that not only was her grandpa proud, but so was her mother. "You are tough, Cassie, and being mentally tough will launch you for much success on and off the court."

While Cassie is a starter for her basketball team, what makes us the most proud is that she is also a starter for our household. She is always willing to help out anyway she can. Vaccinating calves, driving tractor, feeding heifers . . . and the list goes on. When Cassie shows up in the barn, all of our employees have big smiles on their faces, as does her father. They know that Cassie is there to work.

She leads the way, shooting for success everywhere she goes. For that, we cheer loudly, hoping it fuels her drive and motivates all people around her.

Karen Bohnert

Karen Bohnert is a second-generation dairy farmer, born and raised on her family dairy in Oregon and moved east after graduating from Oregon State University. Karen and her husband work in partnership with family, and they along with their three children live and work on the family's 500 Jersey cow dairy in East Moline, Ill. Karen's pride and love for dairy could fill a barn, and she actively promotes dairy anyway she can.