Marisa Smock displayed her love for Hilliard Davidson High School by serving as the school's wildcat mascot for four years.

"She loved it. It was a big part of her identity," said Chad Smock, Marisa's father. "Marisa loved dancing and interacting with people, so that was her type of mascotting."

Marisa, who also played on the girls lacrosse team, died May 6, 2015, at age 19 from complications of a severe asthma attack. The 2014 Davidson graduate was finishing her freshman year at John Carroll University, where she played lacrosse.

Thanks to family and friends, Marisa's memory is being kept alive at Davidson, as a bench inscribed with the Wildcats' logo and the No. 41 she wore as a goalkeeper for the lacrosse team recently was placed with a tree and bushes near the school's strength-and-conditioning building.

The building overlooks the football stadium, where Marisa donned the wildcat costume on Friday nights in the fall and protected the net for the lacrosse team in the spring.

"We wanted to celebrate the school spirit part and give something back, and that's why we put the wildcat (logo on the bench)," said Jill Smock, Marisa's mother.

When Marisa died, in lieu of flowers, her family asked for donations to help Davidson complete construction of the strength-and-conditioning building.

The John Carroll women's lacrosse team held a clinic to help fund the tree and bushes dedicated to Marisa.

Chad Smock has been associated with the girls lacrosse program for six years, including the past four as head coach. He organizes Marisa's J.V. Play Day, a junior varsity lacrosse tournament whose proceeds benefit the girls lacrosse booster club.

Davidson athletics director Nate Bobek said Marisa's love for the school was contagious.

"Marisa's spirit far transcended the mascot," Bobek said. "She was the type of person everyone wanted to be around or get to know. As the mascot, she never turned away from a fan that wanted a picture or a high-five. As a member of the student body, both teachers and students could not help but be drawn to her spirit and personality. Marisa was and will always be truly loved."

Marisa, who received an outstanding senior award for her school spirit and dedication to the school, didn't portray the school mascot just for football. She also donned the wildcat costume for other athletics events at Davidson, including basketball and baseball games, track and field meets and tennis matches.

"She embraced that whole idea that she was the wildcat," Jill Smock said. "A lot of people didn't know who it was. They didn't know if it was a girl or a guy."

Marisa was diagnosed with asthma when she was in fourth grade.

Doctors initially thought her asthma was induced by exercise, Jill Smock said. But as Marisa got older, the illness worsened despite treatment.

The Smock family made several trips to the emergency room at Nationwide Children's Hospital, where Marisa often was treated and released but sometimes was admitted for treatment. Her treatment typically included doses of steroids, her parents said.

According to her mother, Marisa always carried an inhaler and a nebulizer.

Both Chad and Jill Smock remain active in emphasizing asthma awareness by speaking to students and talking with coaches.

"What we try to do is talk about asthma education to people and the fact that for a lot of people, they think it's no big deal, just a bothersome allergy," Jill Smock said. "We're trying to educate that people can die from asthma. It's a very confusing and tricky disease."

The Smocks said finding a cure for asthma was on their daughter's to-do list, along with coaching lacrosse and teaching Spanish.

"We like talking about her," Jill Smock said. "It's heartbreaking but also how we get to remember her."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank