Jo'Vianni “Jo” Smith, a 15-year-old sophomore at Bear Creek (Stockton, California) High School and a catcher/second baseman for the Easton Preps travel team out of Northern California, died Friday from stress-related issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of Smith’s former club coaches, Bill Fletcher of the Carmichael Pride, posted on a softball-related Facebook page the following informational excerpts (posted as pasted on Fastpitch softball forum The Fastpitch Zone):
My softball family
I received some devastating news at midnight last night from a mom of a player who played for me in the fall and made a decision to play for a team closer to her home for the summer. Mom simply said Jo passed away yesterday and didn’t know if I had heard yet but wanted me to know. I was devastated.
She was 15 years old.
Her name is Jo'Vianni "Jo" Smith
Jo was a great athlete.
She excelled at softball, basketball and track.
She had blazing speed. Jo was a bright star with a great personality and a huge heart. and a bright future.
She loved Softball.
Coach Jackson relayed information explaining that the cause of death was reportedly due to the stresses and pressures from coping with the self-isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
I have a daughter That’s a senior in high school. She plays softball for her school team.
We have been at home since March 13th. It’s been extremely hard to relate to what these kids are going through. I have daily conversations with my 2 high schoolers and encourage them to reach out to their friends and teammates. I can’t imagine what Jo was going through to come to this conclusion.
Her mom is a single mom with her own catering business, which in these times couldn’t have been going well.
I’ve coached for over 28 years and these young ladies are like daughters to me. My heart is broken and I can’t stop crying.
I’m asking for you to keep this family in your prayers.
I’m asking you to reach out to others and don’t just assume their doing ok.
Jo’s current team has set up a go fund me.
Please check it out and if you can help out this family.
The text to the page reads as follows:
It is with great sadness to announce the passing of Jo'Vianni "Jo" Smith. Jo was a shining star in our world and she will be deeply missed
In her young spirited life, she touched so many hearts but this has especially rocked our small softball community. She most recently was part of our Easton Preps team led by Coach Justin Pratt but also played for Arsenal now Easton Preps (Pratt), Carmichael Pride (Fletcher), USA Elite (Atkins) , NorCal Firecrackers ( Borden), NorCal Tremors, Yokuts (Moore) All American Sports Academy out of Tracy , USA Fastpitch and her track team God Speed out of Stockton.
As you can imagine, Jo's family is struggling to come to terms with the loss of their child and can use any support that you can provide. Many of you have reached out to ask what you can do to help so we have decided to start this GoFundMe as a way to help alleviate the financial strain and assistance in covering the memorial arrangements. While we truly appreciate your generosity, even a kind thought, memory or prayer for the family would be greatly appreciated.
Jo was a sophomore at Bear Creek HS where she excelled in softball, track & field and basketball. She was a force to be reckoned in all of her sports but will always be remembered for her explosive speed out on the field! Saying that Jo loved to run was an understatement but she also loved the competition and worked hard to be her very best on the field, on the track or on the court.
She loved to dance, laugh, and act like any normal goofy 15 yo girl. She Loved her friends, her teammates and her family and we loved her right back! It was a privilege to have her in our lives, in our softball circle. May you find peace in the arms of God Jo, your "team" will never forget you...
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued recommendations for Stress and Coping related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which the organization claims teens “may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis.”
The CDC adds: “Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include