There’s no “I” in team, especially for these women athletes.
Emily Townsend and Maria Sams, two freshmen basketball athletes from Mount St. Joseph University, described the team’s emotional experience at their first game last Sunday for Lauren Hill, a freshman suffering from an inoperable brain tumor with a dream to play one last college game.
Townsend describes Sunday’s game. “It was different because we had something else to play for. We weren’t just playing for us and our team, we were playing for Lauren. We were all playing for the same person.”
Sams also weighs in on the experience. “It felt good seeing her accomplish her dream and seeing how happy she was.”
During the game, the two players agreed that the amount of support Hill received from the huge crowd was moving and unforgettable.
“People were very respectful in the fact that they were quiet when Lauren did her thing, and when she was hugging people the whole place was silent,” said Sams.
According to the two players, the team found ways to support Hill leading up to the game. They even planned a surprise birthday party for her, held on the Mount’s campus.
“We didn’t treat it as a huge focus that she has cancer. We treated her like any other teammate,” said Townsend.
While sports are always about working together as a team, Hill’s story seemed to strengthen the bonds among the Mount players. The two agreed that she is the reason they became more of a family, acting as a support system for her during this difficult time.
John Trokan, a professor and chair of the Department of Religious and Pastoral Studies at the Mount, described his experience at Lauren’s game where he witnessed a truly remarkable moment that involved Townsend, Sams and other teammates:
“I experienced Sunday's basketball game to be an extraordinary experience of living in the grace of the moment. One memory will be etched in my mind forever. After Lauren Hill made the last shot of the game, she ran down to the other end of the court to play defense in the final seconds. Lauren collapsed on the floor near the top of the key, and the Mount players surrounded her and lifted her up. What a powerful metaphor for the journey of Lauren's life, her journey to help others who suffer from this cancer, and the journey of this extraordinary group of women athletes. And how grateful and blessed I am to be part of this community.”