May 26th, 2024

Hawks dunk on ALS in annual Purple Shirt Night

By JAMES TUBB on March 5, 2024.

A section of Medicine Hat High Hawk fans celebrate a made three-point shot in the last minute of the senior boys 81-77 win Saturday night over the Raymond Comets in the final game of the sixth annual Purple Shirt night in support of ALS research.--NEWS PHOTO JAMES TUBB

The Medicine Hat High Hawks basketball teams put the full-court press on the fight against ALS this weekend.

The Hawks hosted their sixth annual Purple Shirt Night in support of ALS research on Saturday, hosting the Raymond Comets for four games featuring all four teams from both schools. The fundraising event was in support of “Karen’s Purple Shirt Party” and the ALS Society of Alberta in memory of Karen Wagenaar, who died in 2017 from the disease.

Three of the four Hat High teams came out on top, the JV boys won 77-76, JV girls came out on top 68-57 and the senior boys took down the No. 1 ranked Comets 81-77. The senior girls lost 106-46.

It was a night Hat High athletic co-ordinator and senior boys head coach Chad Watson had a bit of trouble speaking after due to a combination of a lost voice and the emotion of the event.

“The Wagenaar family is a special family, right, and it’s such a tragedy that they lost their mom, but we use this as a way to remember Karen, we use this as a way to raise awareness,” Watson said. “Basketball is the second most important thing of the night.”

Watson estimated they had topped $13,000 for the ALS Society through the first five Purple Shirt Nights, with another $4,743.36 tallied from Saturday’s event.

ALS awareness was the focus on the night, with the Wagenaar family sharing their story through the evening and during intermissions. While the fundraising efforts turned the gym purple and helped fill the crowd with even more emotion, the basketball did provide its own spectacle on an already charged night.

The JV boys game came down to a last-second shot from Hayden Van Maarion, they tied the undefeated Comets for first in the league but finish second due to a tiebreaker. The JV wins earned the Hawks a bye into zones.

The senior girls and boys also have byes heading into zones, with the Sr. boys taking first in the league coming out of the weekend.

“It just shows what we’re doing here at Medicine Hat is unbelievable and we have great support by our fans, our admin, our parents, we have total buy-in,” Watson said. “I just can’t be more prouder of this community right now.”

There is a lot of important basketball ahead for the Hawks with zones around the corner, but next year’s Purple Shirt Night is already in the works and will feature LCI as the last team in the league to experience the night.

Watson says they’ll reevaluate after that game but says they plan on keeping the tradition running and spreading awareness of ALS while enjoying a night of basketball.

“This is such a special night that I think next year’s purple shirt will be just as big,” Watson said. “We’re excited to keep playing in this game because we have had so much fun doing it. We have never lost this game when we’ve played against some of the top teams in the South, the senior boys team is 6-0.”

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