RICHMOND, Va. -- The word elite is not thrown around lightly in the Richmond Kickers youth organization.
An elite team is made up of players who have separated themselves from their peers in both skill and acumen in soccer.
Eleven-year-old Molly Muir is on the Kickers 13U Elite team, but this season has been tougher than most. Her favorite teammate has not been with her on the field.
"You just feel like you're missing something when you're on the field and you don't have someone there to encourage you," Molly said. "Your teammates do that but Catherine does it a lot and it makes me feel good."
Catherine is Molly's twin sister and these days, spends a lot of her time at Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU.
"Mostly boring stuff. Just sitting in bed," Catherine said when asked to describe a typical day. "Sometimes I go on walks because I don't like sitting in this all day."
When the Muir sisters went to get their physicals to play soccer this fall, it was discovered that Catherine has acute myeloid leukemia, and has been undergoing chemotherapy for the better part of the last month and a half.
"I described it multiple times as a series of punches to the gut, " the girls' father Josh Muir said.
Josh and Amy Muir have been at Catherine's side ever since her diagnosis. She has completed two rounds of chemotherapy already, and will undergo bone marrow biopsies and lumbar punctures as part of her treatment.
"She is the bravest human being I've ever met in my life," Amy said. "She is without a doubt"
"I was scared the first time I went downstairs to get my procedures but then I wasn't really scared," Catherine said.
"People say, we don't know how you guys are doing it," Josh added. "We don't know how she's doing it. She is our inspiration. She's the one that we look to to keep us going and it shouldn't be that way, but she's that tough."
Without soccer, the physical that originally led to the diagnosis may never have happened. That's why the Muirs consider it a blessing.
Soccer is also a motivation for Catherine to get through some grueling treatments. She is working to get back on the field with her teammates and her sister.
"One of the parents live broadcasts the games so she can watch and it's hard for her," Josh said. "As much as she appreciates the gesture, she wants to be out there."
"It usually makes me feel more positive when I think about it so I like to think about it a lot," Catherine added.
"We're living every parents worst nightmare," Amy said. "But the support that we've received from the community and all the organizations, there are so many more blessings and that's what we're focusing on."
Like almost every set of identical twins, the Muir sisters have this sixth sense about each other.
It shows up on the soccer field too. It can't always be explained but it's definitely real.
"We know where we are, we can play good balls and score," Molly said.
"We can see out of the corner of our eye," Catherine added. "You just feel something when you want to pass because you feel like they're in the right position."
That hasn't had a chance to happen since Catherine's diagnosis of AML.
What has happened is an outpouring of support from the Richmond soccer community the Muirs were not expecting.
From the Kickers, to the Red Army to the teams of the Muirs two older daughters.
Their eldest daughter Emma came up with the hashtag Catherine's Fight, and now all three teams wear the practice jerseys adorned with Catherine's number.
They are just fabric, but they carry a strong message...and if you believe in fate...also might have a certain power.
"I saw that Molly didn't have her jersey on," Josh explained as he told the story of their team's first game of the season. "She still had on the warm up jersey so they're going to let her play in the Catherine's Fight jersey which has Catherine's number 14 on it. I thought that was pretty cool."
"She gets in the game, the ball comes to her, she makes a move and scores the first goal. I'm trying to take pictures, tears are coming down, I'm glad I'm far away from everybody else," said Josh. "Just being able to text Amy and Catherine and let them know Molly scored the first goal with her (sister's) number on her was pretty special."
"You could see all the girls when she scored, everyone ran up to her and there was joy in her face," said Owusu, the girls' coach.
While Catherine still has a long road ahead of her...she has been doing well enough recently to come home for a few days...and that meant getting to at least watch practice from the sidelines.
Even though she can't get on the field yet, her presence lifts the spirits of the entire team.
"It's a relief," Molly said. "It's easier. At school, it's been hard knowing that she's gone. Now that I know she's here, I feel like I can do better."
"These girls are all into it, they're all up for it. They're all ready for it," Owusu said. "When I forget, they ask me, Coach, when are we going to pray for Catherine."
"Everyone is like saying 'you're great,'" Catherine said. "I never really realized how many people thought that."
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with some of their medical expenses.
The Muir's moved into a new home over the summer, just before Catherine's diagnosis.
Catherine has spent more time in the hospital than she has in the new bedroom she shares with her sister. Molly will not stay in the room without Catherine, so she has spent many nights bunking with her parents.
As of this posting, Catherine was well enough to come home for a couple of weeks, and the girls are sleeping in the same room.