Swinney says ‘we can all learn from Ella’

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 11:51 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The life and fight of 15-year-old Ella Bresee has been a great source of inspiration for the Clemson football team this season.

Ella is the little sister of Clemson sophomore Bryan Bresee.

She lost her fight with brain cancer last week and her funeral service was held Tuesday in Maryland. Somewhere between 20 and 30 Clemson players and staff made the trip to support the Bresee family and honor Ella’s life.

“It was amazing,” Swinney said of the service. “We had a lot of players that were able to go. Everyone who spoke did an amazing job of really capturing the beauty of Ella, the joy of Ella and what she meant to so many people.”

Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney called it a ‘beautiful celebration of Ella’ as he reflected on the service Wednesday. Swinney took time at his weekly press conference to share the lasting impact Ella had on himself and his team.

“We all can learn from Ella,” Swinney said at the podium Wednesday. “She’s a sweet girl. She had written a letter and she talked about how bad cancer was. Yes it’s bad but she said I have a choice. I choose to have a great attitude and I’m going to make the best of each day.”

Swinney went on to explain how Ella took time in her letter to encourage people to release their grudges, to love the opportunities they have to play the sports they have and to appreciate your family.

“If we all knew this was our last day, how would we live?” Swinney asked the room full of media. “You’d probably call someone and tell them you love them. If we try and live that way it makes the whole world a better place. I think Ella exemplified that. Right in the midst of the fight of her life and how hard it was she was an inspiration. And just joyful to everyone, every single day. And thankful, thankful for every day that she had.”

Swinney explained the tragic loss of Ella has provided a valuable opportunity for the team to bond and connect. Allowing them to have what the head coach called ‘real life conversations’ and for the players and coaches alike to show their vulnerability.

“Moments like this, as tragic as they are, we all know that that time is coming for all of us at some point. It’s one of those things that you try and block out,” Swinney said, “but you have to live. You have to live each day and live it to the fullest and I think to do that you have to love and you have to forgive. As Ella said, ‘don’t hold grudges.’ And have a true appreciation of today because that’s all we’ve got. None of us are promised tomorrow.”

Swinney added the team experienced more loss last week when equipment manager and grad assistant Noah Harvin’s mother died last weekend after a car accident last Friday. Her service is set for Thursday.

“These are opportunities for everybody, young and old, to truly gain perspective on what’s important and how we should treat people and process things and find joy in the journey and find joy in every moment that comes our way.”

Clemson is back to work Saturday when they travel to Winston-Salem, NC to take on 16th ranked Wake Forest.