Katelyn McCohn stood along the baseline with her Northeastern basketball teammates Saturday evening at 5:30 expecting a ceremony that was never going to happen.
Head coach Cindy Erwin walked to the middle of the court with a microphone and a secret she could finally let out. This wasn’t about the cooked-up idea she had told the team about. Instead, Erwin introduced Airman 1st Class Haley McCohn, the older sister of Katelyn. And Haley walked through the doorway on the other end of the gym.
The sisters met at half court and embraced for the first time in six months. When Katelyn finally let go of Haley, she was full of questions. “Why are you here? What are you doing? How’d you get here?”
Haley is stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana where she is training to be a web developer. The sisters had not seen each other since July. Katelyn did not expect to see her sister again until at least February.
But two months ago Haley was unexpectedly granted a week of leave. She told her mom, Susan Yates, that she wanted to surprise Katelyn and 13-year-old brother Ryan.
“We have a big family Christmas tonight and Mom was acting kind of sketchy so I figured something was up,” Katelyn said. “But I didn’t know that my sister was coming.”
The emotion of the reunion was more than Haley expected. She had been on a whirlwind trip of landing in Dayton at 4 p.m. and arriving at the school just in time before warm-ups for a game against Shawnee.
“She was crying and her teammates started tearing up, so I got a little choked up too,” Haley said. “It was real good to surprise her.”
Katelyn is a sophomore and the starting point guard for the Jets. It’s the same position Haley played for the Jets before graduating in 2012.
“She’s been one of my best friends for the longest time,” Katelyn said. “When she left it was one of the hardest things.”
Katelyn looks at her sister as a role model for many reasons, not the least of which is her choice to serve her country in the Air Force.
“It’s kind of shocking to me that somebody would look up to me,” Haley said. “My mom always tells me that she looks up to me. So I try to be a good example and tell her to do the right things and be there for her if she needs to talk.
“She is the most important thing in my life. I love her so much.”