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ALS: “Shooting” for a Cure

Mae Novakoski, Crown Writer and Photographer

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Not only do the students of Marian Central participate in athletics for the love of the sport, but they also love playing for a cause. There is no doubt that athletes are passionate about their sport, and that passion can rise to greater heights when the game symbolizes something more than just the sport. During the season, the various athletic teams dedicate one of their games to an important cause. This year, the 2018 Marian girls varsity basketball team dedicated their January 12th game in support of those afflicted with ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This cause was especially meaningful to the team as the father of one of the senior starters is currently battling this grave disease.

The game took place on a Friday night, the best night for a sporting event. The turnout was absolutely incredible; Landers Pavilion was packed throughout the entire game. In attendance were not only students and parents of the two opposing teams, Marian and Crystal Lake South, but alumni, faculty, and even students from other high schools, like Crystal Lake Central. In fact, the entire girls’ varsity team from Central came to support ALS and the Marian family affected by this disease. With the pre-game music blasting and the fans cheering, the varsity girls were hyped from their first step onto the gym floor. Not only was it special to play for such an important cause, but ALS is a disease the Marian community has known on a more personal level. The father of varsity senior starter Vannessa Garrelts has been battling ALS for many years. When asked about her feelings regarding the event, Garrelts (12) said, “As we started to warm up before the game, I was a ball of emotions: happy, grateful, nervous, and feeling so much suspense for the game to actually start. Of course, this basketball game meant the world to me because of how close the cause was to my heart. The night honestly left me speechless. The amount of people that came, the support shown, the atmosphere that was in the gym. Just everything about that night made it one of the most special nights to my family and me.” Marian Central has been home to the Garrelts family for many years, as Vannessa’s three older siblings also attended high school at Marian. What better way to show love and support for Mr. Garrelts and his family than to dedicate his daughter’s game in his honor.

As the announcers announced the starting lineup for the Marian Central Hurricanes, each player threw an ALS t-shirt into the crowd. All the excited students were jumping up, hoping they could be the lucky person to get one. After the initial excitement, a bittersweet moment occurred when the announcers gave recognition to Mr. Garrelts. The entire gym was on their feet and clapping for him; it was a beautiful moment, a goosebumps moment. Early in the game, the score was back and forth, each team putting their best out onto the court. As the game progressed, Marian began to creep ahead, and eventually, the Hurricanes took a big lead. Another senior player, Maria Mercurio said, “It was amazing to see how many people came together for a cause that is so close to the hearts of Marian families.” Athletes always want to win, but when the game is dedicated to something that is important to them, their school, and their community, it gives them the extra drive and makes winning that much more special. The extra drive and motivation are exactly what happened; the Marian Central girls’ varsity basketball team won on their home court. It was the icing on the cake for a very special night.

Not only was Marian playing in support of ALS, but the opposing team, Crystal Lake South, was playing to support the cause as well. Their fan section was also packed, and all of their players had on ALS t-shirts. Another neighboring school, Crystal Lake Central, also had students and girls basketball players in attendance. To close the event, when the game was finished, the players from all three schools came together for a group picture. The girls all put their absolute best efforts forward on the court not only for the sport they love but more importantly for the cause it represented. The competitive side of these athletes from opposing schools melted away to simply a group of girls with a common interest… fighting for something much more important than a basketball game.

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ALS: “Shooting” for a Cure