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CSU women's basketball honors player's late father with warmup patches

CSU senior Petra Farkas lost her father unexpectedly this fall. The Rams stepped up to support their teammate by donning 'PF' patches on their warmup sleeves.
Credit: KUSA Sports

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — From the moment the Colorado State Rams take the court, there's a clear energy permeating throughout the floor. It originates from number 11.

"I woke up this morning at 4:30, literally could not sleep. I was just so excited and I don't know why," senior Petra Farkas said. "I'm trying to bring energy and positivity every single day."

It's a mindset that she says was instilled in her from childhood back in Hungary. Her mother and father both raised her to carry herself with positivity.

"She's the heartbeat of our team. She is the energy, she is the life. Petra is very, very vibrant," head coach Ryun Williams said. "So to see an individual who brings that every single day, to have such hurt with the loss of her father, that's what's heartbreaking."

It came as a shock to everyone -- a healthy man who lost his life from a sudden accident -- but the shock hit Williams first, as he had the unfortunate responsibility of delivering the news.

"In my 29 years of coaching, I've never experienced such a heartbreaking moment as when Petra found out that Pal had passed," he said.

The news was lost in translation at first. Williams first told Petra that her grandfather had died, and she brushed off the news. All four of her grandparents passed before she was born. Then she realized what the mistranslation must have meant.

"I called my mom on FaceTime and I remember my sister was right next to her and they were crying. That was the moment when I asked my mom, 'It's Dad?' and she said yes," she said in between tears.

As someone who does not lose composure easily, Petra hasn't found much reprieve from those tears these past two months. It hasn't made it much easier to be more than 5,500 miles away from her home of Kecskemet, Hungary. 

"I remember coach [Ryun] Williams and Annie [Lopez-Bauman], our athletic trainer, were up there and they were giving me hugs and it felt so good to actually feel somebody around me," she said.

After she returned home from the funeral, Petra wanted a way to honor her father for each game. She asked the equipment department if she could wear a black stripe on the strap of her jersey. While that personal request was granted, they did one better.

"It was Petra's [original] idea and her teammates' to put the 'PF' on the sleeves of our warmups to honor her father," Williams said.

The whole team exited the locker room with the initials 'PF' for Pal Farkas on the right sleeves of their green hooded warmup jerseys.

"The first time I saw it on other people, it made me emotional," Petra said. "I don't know, they never met my dad, my dad never spoke English."

But they knew Petra.

"The culture of this program is that of team and our kids support each other in a lot of different ways," Williams said.

With her family halfway around the world, her Ramily stepped up.

"It's just a beautiful thing to have a family away from family," sophomore Makayla Hemingway said. "Regardless of what she goes through, we all go through it."

Redshirt junior Sydney Mech was with Petra when she heard the news. The two have never been closer, she said.

"We talk about it all of the time on this team, we're around these people 24-7. This is our family," Mech said. "I think it's great that we can be there for her, as well."

Petra's spirit soon returned with the warm support of her teammates. She credited a speech coach Williams gave the team about the family you're born into versus the family you choose.

"For me, family means people who love each other unconditionally." she said. "That's it."

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