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Cummings finds motivation from her little brother battling cancer | Redmond High Volleyball
At first glance and after conversing with her for a few minutes, Micah Cummings perfectly fits the role of a high school sophomore.
The 15-year-old girl’s long pony tail swings from side to side as she walks, she speaks softly and giggles a bit while discussing the trio of sports she passionately participates in: volleyball, wrestling and judo.
However, when the Redmond High School student delves into her personal life, she suddenly has grown well beyond her 15 years on this Earth.
While gently stroking that pony tail as if it were a safety net, Cummings calmly tells of her 13-year-old brother, Kenny, who was diagnosed with signet ring cell carcinoma in his colon over the summer. The rare form of cancer is usually found in older people. Young Kenny has had chemotherapy and radiation and is bravely fighting the cancer, Micah said.
“He’s doing OK. He’s hanging in there — he’s in pain a lot,” she added.
“It’s completely changed my life,” she continued. “Before, me and him were both national judo competitors. And then, all of a sudden to see him change from a really active person to a person who’s lying in bed all day … it completely changed.”
Micah said that Kenny told their mother, Tomoko — when she was praying and searching for answers — that “God chose me to have this cancer because I can beat it.” Micah says her brother’s words have motivated her to work hard and excel in life — in the classroom and on the volleyball court — because she feels that Kenny is rooting for her.
“She is one of the toughest kids I have ever coached. She is a quiet leader on this team. Micah has just worked so hard and improves every day in practice and in every match,” said varsity volleyball coach Ross Johnson, adding that Cummings — a 5-foot-7 setter — has compiled an impressive 216 assists at the halfway point of the season and averages 5.3 assists per set.
“This team is small with only nine players, the kids are a very close-knit group and they all just love ‘Mikey.’”
Cummings has followed in the footsteps of her mother and stepdad, Tsutomu, who both played high-school volleyball in Japan. She picked up the sport in sixth grade and has been on several elite club teams over the years in addition to her freshman and sophomore years with the Mustangs.
She hated volleyball at first.
“At first, I was kind of like, ‘Oh this is such a girlie sport. It’s just throwing around a ball,’” she said with a laugh.
As she became more familiar with volleyball, she grew to love keeping the ball alive during rallies, becoming mentally tough during intense games, leading the team like a football quarterback at setter and experiencing the familial-like bonds with her teammates and coaches.
“Also, volleyball gets my mind off a whole bunch of things. After a long day, it’s nice to play volleyball and just have fun,” she said.
It’s not an easy sport to play, either, Cummings added. “My ankles are terrible because of it — but it’s all worth it.”
Coach Johnson’s squad (1-4 in 4A Kingco and 3-7 overall) consists of senior Ally O’Brochta, juniors Zoey LeSueur, Audrey Hyem, Bianca Javios and Ryan Ong and Cummings’ fellow sophomores Katie Williamson, Dagny Safon and Dani King.
“All these young players have a tremendous future with Mustang volleyball and Micah has a chance to be one of the very best,” Johnson said.
At 124 pounds, Cummings is a solid wrestler, as well. Last year, she garnered a handful of pins during her girls varsity and boys junior varsity matches, and she’s looking forward to making an impact again this season.
Cummings found her way onto the wrestling mat when coach Paul Mullen encouraged her to give it a try after learning about her judo background.
“I actually won my first wrestling match here … against a boy — yeah,” she said with a giggle. “I took the guy down and then I pinned him and then everybody on the sideline stood up and they were all cheering for me.”
She admits to being a little scared at first when looking across the mat at her male competitor, but the nervousness soon disappeared when the match began. She even called upon a judo move or two to pull the boy onto the mat and finish him off.
Cummings was surprised and elated at the same time when notching that victory.
Kenny was surely proud of his big sister’s wrestling prowess that day.