Every once in a while, the important things in life come into focus.
Such was the case last Friday night in St. Peter.
It was a girls basketball game featuring the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers against South Central Conference opponents, the St. Peter Saints.
It was a big game, an important conference matchup.
But, long after the fans in attendance forget that the highly-talented Saints defeated the Buccaneers by a 20-point margin, they might recall some of the other activities at the sporting event.
The two teams, their coaches and their fans, came together against a common opponent – cancer.
Both teams, and coaching staffs, wore identical purple shirts before the game, with the slogan “Rivals Rally Against Cancer” emblazoned across them.
It was the idea of first year Saints coach Bob Southworth. He says he not only wants to teach the girls the game, but more importantly, how to be better people, give back to their communities and serve others.
Cancer had hit home to the Saints basketball team, when one of their members, Katrina Siebels, has battled non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She was diagnosed a year ago, went through chemotherapy and now is back with the team.
Coach Southworth’s wife is the former Sara Schonrock, a 1995 BEA grad.
It was her idea to contact the Bucs’ coach, Al Cue, and set this event into motion.
She says Coach Cue had no hesitations or reservations about the idea, and said his team would be willing to help and do whatever they were needed to do.
In both St. Peter and the Blue Earth area, players of both squads sold paper ribbons and birthday cakes to remember people who have, or had, cancer.
At the game, paper airplanes were sold at the door, and there was an airplane toss contest at halftime. Prizes such as an iPod and four rounds of golf were given away.
Persons who bought an airplane had their names entered into one of two boxes, one for St. Peter fans, one for BEA folks.
Then, two St. Peter names, and two BEA names were drawn out for the four persons to have a chance at making a half court basketball shot, worth $50 cash.
Buc Coach Al Cue’s daughter, Kayla, was one of the lucky names drawn. She almost nailed the shot, with the ball just rimming out. No one else was even close.
The $50 was donated to the pot of money being raised for cancer research. When everything was totalled up from the week of fundraising, there was $1,300 in the pot, which will be donated to the American Cancer Society.
Fans from both teams wore purple in the stands, and Sara Southworth says it was quite a sight.
It was so heartwarming, she says, that the Buccaneer team and fans helped support the effort, and participated eagerly. It made the event more powerful and special, she adds, because both teams were involved.
As a former resident, she says, she knew the Blue Earth Area folks would embrace the idea.
It was really cool, she adds, and turned out great.
What a neat idea, using a sporting event as a chance for people to do something good for the world they live in.
Sometimes we are accused of putting too much emphasis on sports – at all levels; high school, college and professional.
The pros are paid hard-to-comprehend salaries for playing a game, while there are people struggling with unemployment, money problems and health issues.
Something like “Rivals Rally Against Cancer” brings it all back into focus, and shows us what actually is important in our lives.
Maybe the pro sports teams should take a lesson from the Saints and Buccaneers.