'We wanted to be like him': Teurlings Catholic twins lose biggest fan with dad's death just weeks after diagnosis
Across the court from Teurlings Catholic's bench, Steven Dupuis sat at the top row of the bleachers to watch his girls play basketball.
He would be next to his wife, Melissa, both perched on red foldable bleacher chairs up against the blue gym wall. Sometimes he would have on his suit from work at the games, other times wearing a collared button-down shirt, suit jacket and a sun hat.
Dupuis would never miss any of his twin daughters' games.
"If I was sitting on the bench or playing, I could turn to him and he'd be like 'Arc, arc, arc,' because my form when I was shooting was not the best," said his daughter Amélie, a sophomore at Teurlings. "When I was running, he would be the one yelling at us or trying to record, which he's not good at using a phone so ... just stuff like that made my day."
Dupuis died at the age of 73 on Jan. 20 of bile duct cancer. He was diagnosed on Jan. 3.
Doctors had initially given him four months to live.
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"It's been hard," Amélie said. "But we've just been staying busy and doing what he'd want us to do. He would tell us 'I want you to go to your game. I want you to go to school.'
"We looked up to him and we wanted to be like him," said Angelle, Amélie's twin sister.
The last month has been a whirlwind for the twins.
Not only was their father's diagnosis unexpected, but his condition worsened quicker than anticipated. New symptoms seemed to be popping up every day and he eventually started to experience mini-strokes.
As he got sicker, the sisters kept on playing. During games on the week of his death, Amélie would look up from the bench to find his dad's usual spot in the bleachers, only to find it empty.
She couldn't help herself from crying.
"That was just hard, trying to stay strong and everyone asking how you were doing when like, I don't know, there was no good answer for that," Amélie said.
But the twins had each other to help ease the shock of what was happening to their father.
"(Amélie is) always there for me whenever I need her," Angelle said. "It's really awesome having someone you can depend on all of the time."
"I can get up in the middle of the night and go to her room if I need to," Amélie said. "I can always text her about whatever. I don't have to hide anything."
Angelle and Amélie are fraternal twins — Angelle is older by one minute — and always had a good relationship growing up. They share the same friends and have only gotten closer since high school.
The twins started out sharing a bedroom. But before they had even turned 2, the sisters started jumping from bed to bed, using the mattresses as trampolines to go back and forth across the room.
"(It was) in the middle of the night when we got bored," Amélie said. "We got our room taken away."
Once the twins started getting into sports at around fifth grade, they also started to become more competitive with each other. Besides basketball, Angelle and Amélie also compete in spring track and cross country.
"Like before we didn't play sports it was like, 'Yeah, whatever,' " Angelle said. "Now it's always a competition."
Growing up the twins would find themselves shooting hoops, swimming or throwing a baseball around with their father and older brother. They'd then head inside and watch some kind of game on TV.
Their father would also tell stories of his playing days in middle school and high school. He played baseball and basketball and ran track, claiming that he used to run the 400-meter dash in 48 seconds.
"He has a younger brother, so I feel like just growing up they got into (sports) naturally," Amélie said.
Besides his job — he was an attorney — Steve's passion was attending his daughters' sporting events.
He wasn't the loudest parent, but his presence was always felt. Amélie remembers the advice he would give before, during and after games. She respected his wisdom.
"He would never fuss or yell, but he would always be like, 'my goal for you is to have this many points or to guard this girl,'" Amélie said. "Most parents I feel like just yell and cheer, but they never give advice or really try to actually get into the game because I can look up and see half of the kids' parents on their phones. But he was always watching, writing down our stats or whatever."
Amélie said her dad being older than a typical parent was an advantage in some ways.
"He was able to spend more time with us, giving us a better relationship than I could imagine. I feel like he was able to give us better advice based on all his experiences. I wouldn't change him being older or younger either. His age was perfect."
Amélie was woken up at 2 a.m. to learn the news of her father's death. She couldn't fall back asleep, but she went to school anyway; going for the required three hours so that she could still play that evening against St. Thomas More.
The Cougars, Teurling's cross-town rivals, were a team their father always wanted them to beat. So that night the sisters took his advice "and poured their hearts out onto the floor."
Their father would've been proud even in a 56-23 loss to their rival for their play.
"I've never and I don't think I ever will have (someone) who will ever be as proud of me as he was," Amélie said.
Koki Riley is a recruiting and high school sports reporter for The Daily Advertiser and the USA TODAY Sports South Region. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.