Hempfield, Latrobe student sections to honor deceased teacher with ‘purple out’ |

Hempfield, Latrobe student sections to honor deceased teacher with ‘purple out’

Bill Beckner Jr.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
The Latrobe student section gets rowdy while Penn Hills’ Jamil Tarver shoots a foul shot during their WPIAL boys basketball contest at Latrobe High School on Friday, Feb.10, 2017 in Latrobe. Latrobe beat Penn Hills 76-75 to become WPIAL Class 6A Section Champs.

Rival student sections from Latrobe and Hempfield will band together tonight to pay homage to a late friend and teacher.

When their boys basketball teams play the Section 3-6A finale at Latrobe, both groups of students will wear purple to recognize Kathryn Soisson, a former Hempfield teacher and Latrobe resident, who died Jan. 31. She was 52.

Purple, the students say, was her favorite color.

The game carries plenty of meaning: Hempfield can make the playoffs with an upset win over the top-ranked Wildcats, who are looking for an undefeated section season.

They’ll make noise and cheer, but their purpose on this night will be somewhat subdued — even from Latrobe’s Den, known for having one of the most animated student sections in the WPIAL.

But the students in “The Den” of Latrobe and “The Pond” of Hempfield are looking at the game from a different perspective.

“Since Mrs. Soisson taught at Hempfield and her kids attended Latrobe we thought it’d be nice to team up in her memory,” said Jenna Salvatore, one of the student section leaders at Hempfield. “Even though we are competing against each other tonight, we all want to show our respect to Mrs. Soisson and her family. Even though we are rivals on the court, we can still come together to remember a wonderful and loving teacher and mother.”

Soisson taught at West Point Elementary.

“It’s awesome what the kids are doing,” Hempfield coach Bill Swan said. “(Soisson’s husband) Paul and I grew up together and Kathy taught my son, Logan, and some of our other players. She was such a sweet and dear person and the Hempfield-Latrobe game encompasses two special parts of her and her family’s lives.”

Soisson’s son, Ryan, is a former Latrobe basketball player. He daughter, Anna, is a junior at Latrobe.

“It just goes to show that some things are bigger than a rivalry, and this is one of them,” Latrobe senior basketball player Reed Fenton said. “Both schools are deeply saddened by her loss, and we both want to show our respects and thought this was the best way to do that.”

Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at [email protected] or via Twitter @BillBeckner.