Published in The News-Herald
October 3, 2016
For the 44th time dating to 1983, Chagrin Falls and Kenston were on opposite touchlines Oct. 1 for their annual encounter in one of the premier boys soccer rivalries in The News-Herald coverage area.
And for the eighth time among those 44 matches, the Bombers and Tigers tied, settling for a 1-1 draw.
We’ll leave the match coverage and insight for elsewhere, because maybe this once, among two neighborhood rivals, a tie is perfectly fine. In a broader sense for a special cause, a tie here is fitting.
Kenston’s first boys soccer match in its renovated stadium was used as a fundraiser for Hawken Hunt, the infant son of Chagrin Falls superintendent Robert Hunt and Chagrin girls track and field coach Shannon Beach, who is battling Burkitt leukemia.
According to the National Cancer Institute, Burkitt is a “rare, fast-growing type of leukemia (blood cancer) in which too many white blood cells called B lymphocytes form in the blood and bone marrow.” The American Cancer Society estimates Burkitt leukemia accounts for about 2 to 3 percent of childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia.
At both schools, T-shirts have been sold with the message “We fly with Hawk,” with a Tiger paw print in the middle of a Bomber logo, which both sides sported prematch.
Kenston wore pink jerseys, and raffles were held — everything with a sweet little guy in mind who could use the support and has received it from all circles.
“The superintendent over at Chagrin Falls, his 8-month-old son has a rare form of leukemia,” Bombers coach Josh Sladick said. “And so what we did was we all pitch in, buying these shirts and it was going into a fund. So it wasn’t just Kenston doing it. It was Chagrin Falls doing it as well.
“It was kind of cool. I’m all for fundraising for a good cause. The fact that that type of cause hits so close to home, and we’re able to help not only a family out, but specifically an 8-month-old who is helpless to say the least.”
Hawk’s older brother Braden, a Kenston seventh-grader whom Sladick coached in youth soccer, served as an honorary captain for the boys match.
A Twitter search for #teamhawk and #hawkstrong will show just how much the community has rallied and how many people his story has touched.
Other schools have gotten involved — such as Newbury and Cardinal. Huskies coach Mike Topalian is Hawken’s uncle, and Cardinal will be holding a Crush Cancer event Oct. 10 in a nonconference match against Brookfield.
While Twitter plugs are typically not found in this space, we’ll make an exception this time — you can follow Hawk’s journey on his Twitter handle, @HuntHawken.
“Kenston organized this whole thing,” Chagrin coach Mario Gerhardt said of the evening. “We just got to be a part of it, and I think it’s pretty neat, two communities next to each other. It’s always fun to play Kenston.”
Just this once, maybe a little more than usual.
Listen to audio interviews with both head coaches.
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