September 25, 2022

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The Sports Fanatics

Sidelines: Gardiner’s touching tribute to wounded Lawrence basketball participant transcends sporting activities

GARDINER — In the moments just before a critical Course A North game at Gardiner Area Large University, the Lawrence girls basketball team experienced now taken the court docket to heat up when it was joined by a different team in blue.

The Gardiner players took the flooring seconds later, all donning blue T-shirts more than their home whites, with a black No. 5 on the back. The quantity was a tribute to MaKenzie Nadeau, Lawrence’s junior guard, who’s out for the season following suffering a fracture to her backbone in a automobile incident on Dec. 28.

It was also a reminder: The ties in the large college basketball neighborhood go effectively outside of what normally takes location on the courtroom.

“It is a terrific gesture,” Lawrence coach Greg Chesley said. “It’s a signal of respect. ‘Hey, we know you are hurting. We’re going to do this to honor you and let you know that we respect what you do.’”

Looking at from the other aspect of the court, Lawrence junior guard Hope Bouchard, who was also a passenger in the accident and endured a broken finger, claimed she was touched by the tribute.

“It’s truly nice viewing area faculties about executing one thing like that for our group,” she stated. “It’s definitely good to see that variety of issue. It was really large.”

Gardiner was not the only group to identify what Nadeau and the Bulldogs are likely by way of, as Skowhegan did a very similar tribute before a sport in January. For Chesley, the information has appear by that, as strong as the rivalries in Class A North are, the sense of camaraderie among the the teams is even more powerful.

“The quantity of coaches that have attained out to me and to MaKenzie and to Hope has really been extraordinary,” he explained. “I really want to loathe every single opponent, but some of this more substantial-than-basketball stuff has showed me that individuals are great. And people treatment about us as a basketball neighborhood, and we seem out for every single other.”

For teams like Gardiner, Nadeau — who was on the bench for the recreation — is additional than just a identify on the roster of an opponent. Quite a few of the Tigers and Bulldogs grew up taking part in with and in opposition to each and every other, their paths through the activity intertwined all through the yrs top up to high university.

“We’ve been enjoying towards them due to the fact I can don’t forget,” Bouchard said. “I keep in mind in PAL coming up in elementary college, we would perform against them. Back then we even understood that we would be significant rivals below in high college.”

As one of the gamers in that software, Nadeau became another person the Tigers observed typically.

“People usually say Cony-Gardiner, but it is generally been a struggle versus Lawrence, even in vacation basketball in fourth and fifth grade,” Gardiner junior guard Megan Gallagher reported. “We’ve just developed up with her, and then we ended up actively playing with her in AAU and drop leagues. She’s just definitely good.”

The news about the accident, Gardiner mentor Mike Gray explained, was a blow for his crew.

“They’ve all recognized each and every other permanently, and when we read what took place with Hope and MaKenzie, our girls ended up shaken up,” he stated. “You could see that that impacted them, and they talked about seeking to do something, just to make sure they know we treatment.”

The only concern was what.

Gardiner Spot Higher University gamers warm up in No. 5 T-shirts to honor Lawrence’s MaKenzie Nadeau prior to a Class A North video game Tuesday night in Gardiner. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

“We have been striving to imagine of a way to not make a enormous scene,” Gallagher claimed. “We felt the warmups would be a sweet plan, just to recognize her. … When they received in the accident we ended up in Florida, and a whole lot of groups ended up sending bouquets and stuff. In 1 of the posts, she claimed she’s gotten a ton of flowers, so we were attempting to assume of anything that would be distinctive.”

“Our group does a good career of examining in on her and making absolutely sure she’s Alright,” Gardiner junior centre Lizzy Gruber said. “That’s very little any one really should ever have to go by means of, alongside with her and her teammates and her spouse and children. We truly required to do that for her, just since we have a connection.”

The sport that took put afterward seemed the way Gardiner-Lawrence games typically do: Near, back and forth, and physical. Tuesday evening showed the competitiveness that’s usually there involving the packages, and it also confirmed the regard.

This time, that respect arrived in the type of a “we’ve obtained your back” to a group that has had to offer with anything a good deal more durable than skipped absolutely free throws or a mid-time dropping streak.

“It was truly challenging at initially,” Bouchard reported, “but I imagine we’re executing very great. We’re all really powerful, and we have a seriously good local community to support us.”

On Tuesday night, that couldn’t have been far more distinct.

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