'She was so loved': Totino-Grace football manager dies of cancer


Rachel Woell, the manager of the Totino-Grace High School football team, went to what would be her last football game Friday night.

“We wanted to have her do what she enjoyed doing and that was being with her fellow football players. We went to the game last night, came home at halftime, and we were in the house a minute or two and (she) passed in our arms,” Jamie Woell, Rachel's father, told FOX 9.

The 17-year-old senior died after a long battle with brain cancer.

Her mother, Yvette Woell, wrote on her CaringBridge page Saturday morning that she had died the night before, writing "She was wise beyond her years and she loved with all her heart. She reminded us always to remember 'everyday is a gift' and she touched so many lives by her gentle and caring ways."

Rachel Woell was a beloved member of the Totino Grace community and an inspiration to those around her – and this football season was dedicated to her.

When she was in elementary school, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. She had been in remission until last fall, and this summer, she learned there were few options left to treat her brain tumor, WCCO says.

"None of this is surprising, but it is still heartbreaking,'' Totino-Grace High School football coach Jeff Ferguson told the Pioneer Press. "She was at every game and every practice. Her devotion and dedication to the team was incredible. She embraced being on our team with great passion. She wasn't a figurehead; she was not the mascot. The relationship she had with the coaches and players was genuine. She was so loved.''

Woell, and Totino-Grace running back Kez Flomo, were named homecoming king and queen – he pushed her wheelchair at the coronation, the Star Tribune reports.

Last December, more than 1,000 students and staff members rallied around Woell by creating a video to the tune of the Katy Perry hit, “Roar."


“It was just so beautiful to see a community come together and love another person the way they loved her. They were showing her everything she'd given them, and they were giving it back,” Yvette Woell told FOX 9.

A reviewal is planned for Thursday at Totino-Grace, with a funeral mass Saturday. Washburn-McReavy Hillside Chapel in Minneapolis is handling the arrangements.

"The funeral isn't on Friday because she wouldn't have wanted anything to disrupt our game," Ferguson told the Pioneer Press.

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