Once a Cyclone, always a Cyclone
HARLAN — The Harlan Community Middle School honored the life and memorialized the legacy of a teammate and friend. Mia Schwieso passed away unexpectedly January 31, 2023.
Tuesday, January 30, Mia's team retired her basketball jersey.
Middle school principal and activities director Bill Mueller said the eighth grade girls’ team has been honoring Mia throughout the season.
Mueller said some players wrote messages for Mia on their basketball shoes, others represented her by wearing blue, her favorite color, t-shirts under their jerseys or blue hair ribbons. The team kept her jersey, #15, on the bench during practices and games.
“There have been things going throughout the season to help them remember Mia,” Mueller said.
“She was always there with them.”
The #15 jersey is now encased in a frame, and will be displayed in the trophy case of the middle school. When the eighth grade class advances to the high school building next fall, the jersey will accompany them.
Mia’s younger sister, Kendall, has the option of wearing the number in her sister’s honor when she reaches middle school.
Mia’s parents, Chris and Ann, were presented with a specially designed pair of tennis shoes, which were displayed Tuesday.
“The middle school student council kids wanted to do something. They knew she was a shoe lover, so they designed a pair all about her,” Mueller said. The blue tennis shoes feature a basketball photo of Mia.
“Shoes were Mia’s thing. These were so fitting. What a great memento that totally represented her,” Mueller said.
Chris and Ann describe their daughter as a light, bright, force of kindness, silliness, and competitive spirit, rolled into a delightful 13-year old.
“Her impact was felt when she was with us,” they said. “To our family she was the thoughtful goof.”
Mia was always thinking of others, they said, while trying to make them smile or make their day better. They said she was a fantastic big sister, and admired her older sister.
“She truly admired and loved both of her sisters, looking up to Aubrey and being one of Kendall’s ‘protectors’,” her parents said.
“What we have come to understand even more since she is gone is that Mia was the same to her community. She has left a legacy of kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity. She had a smile— and dimples that could light up a room, and the absence of those are felt and weigh heavy on our hearts.”
The Schwieso family said Mia’s friends and classmates had just as much of an impact on her as she had on them.
“They all played a part in the beautiful young lady Mia became. Our hope is she led by example with her kindness, inclusion, and hopefully doing the right thing, no matter the situation,” her parents said.
Chris and Ann hope their daughter will be remembered for the good she did, the smile and laughter she shared, and her love of her faith, family and friends. “We want all her family and friends to know just how much she loved them and genuinely cared about them.”
Mueller said Tuesday was a touching tribute to an incredible young woman.
“When you think of the word kindness, Mia emulated all the things kindness is,” Mueller said. “A girl her age, having the values she had, was someone to be proud of.”
Mueller “can’t say enough” about the Schwieso family.
“They did so much for our community before this happened, and continue to do things still.”
“They are carrying on the legacy of Mia.”