By Gabrielle Burbary
The Williamston Post
The Williamston boys varsity basketball team is preparing to play their state semifinal game Friday — not only for the title, but for their coach, Jason Bauer, who was diagnosed with brain tumors earlier this month.
The team will face Detroit Henry Ford at The Breslin Center in East Lansing at 6 p.m. Friday.
“Our whole motto was that coach is going to have a lot of battles coming up to win his own war, so we need to win our battles on the court and win games,” said Riley Lewis, a senior on the team.
Lewis said finding out this information shocked everyone.
“After we won our first game in districts against Sexton, we knew he was sick because he didn’t coach,” said Lewis. “When we got off the bus back at our gym my Dad and the other assistants pulled us in the gym and shared the news.”
Lewis said this hardship has given them an inspiration and reason to play.
“It made us realize that this whole thing is about more than just basketball,” said Lewis.
Frankie Toomey, a sophomore on the team said they are dedicating their success to their coach.
“It inspires me because you never know what could happen to him on any given day,” said Toomey.
Toomey also said that the team wears Bauer strong shirts to show their love and support.
“This situation motivates me to play harder and try and come out and win for Coach Bauer,” said Toomey.
Connor Porrell, who has been playing for Coach Bauer for two years, said that they have received a lot of backing from Williamston through this time.
“Our community has shown Coach Bauer and us so much support,” said Porrell. “It truly means a lot to us.”
Porrell said that for the duration of the season Coach Bauer has always been there for them.
“He has always believed that we’d make it to this point when nobody else did,” said Porrell.
Not only the team itself but other community members such as Nate Lott, a friend of Bauer’s, are hosting events like the upcoming #BauerStrong golf outing to raise money for him.
“The whole town has come together,” said Lott. “My phone has been ringing off the hook.”
Lott said the goal of this event is to not only raise money but for the community to come together to support him and his family.
“People that I don’t even know have been calling me saying that even if they don’t golf, they want to find a way to get involved,” said Lott, the varsity basketball coach at Webberville.
Lott said they have so much support for the golf outing that they are looking at filling the course a second time.
“We have room for 36 teams in this event and within a matter of a few days, we already have 40 golf teams,” said Lott.
Lott said that he is foregoing a golf outing for his own basketball program so that he can focus on this one.
“This is the stuff that hits you right in the face, especially when it happens to someone you know,” said Lott. “Anything that will help Jason.”