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Willits Wednesdays: MTHS and the Football community remind us of how important teamwork is away from the field

Steve Willits – the voice of the Hawks and Sound Live Sports Network.

Steve Willits – the voice of the Hawks and Sound Live Sports Network.

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Football is a team sport. The best players can’t succeed without the efforts of their teammates. Mountlake Terrace’s football team defeated Shorewood 49-21 on Friday night to raise their record to 2-1 on the season and their early success can definitely be attributed to being a cohesive unit. Five different players scored touchdowns for the Hawks on Friday night, Malcolm Johnson ran for over 200 yards, the offensive line dominated the Thunderbirds front line and quarterback Justin Hopkins had the best game of his career. One player cannot win a game by himself, it is vital that contributions come from many people.

For all of the team success that the Hawks have had on the field, perhaps the greatest display of teamwork from Mountlake Terrace football this season has come away from the Friday night lights. It started on the night of the season opener on September 5th and will continue through the entire season.

The Hawks opened their season two weeks ago with a 14-13 victory over Mariner however there wasn’t much post game celebrating. The victory on the scoreboard was bitter sweet due to the concern for teammate Michael Hunt. Hunt is a senior for the Hawks and had his world turned upside down in the blink of an eye. Hunt suffered a gruesome injury in the 3rd quarter of the game while tackling a Mariner ball carrier. Hunt’s leg (tibia and fibia) was broken in four places and he needed to be taken from the field in an ambulance which transported him to a hospital. Michael’s injury was so severe that he underwent surgery the following day and spent 4 days in the hospital.

Hospital stays can take a toll on an entire family and nobody knows this more than Michael’s mother, Kristin Garza. Kristin stayed at the hospital by Michael’s side every night which isn’t easy when there are four younger kids at home. It has been difficult for the immediate family but they are not going through this ordeal alone. They are a part of a much bigger team and have the support of an extended family, the Mountlake Terrace football and MTHS family.

Garza is herself a Mountlake Terrace High School alum and is in awe of the support that the family has received. “Having graduated from MTHS and living in this community for so many years, I have never felt so much love as this community as shown us.” said Garza.

Garza spoke glowingly of the support from so many. She speaks of the visits that Michael received at the hospital and at home from his teammates, coaches and other parents. “We have been in football with most of these families since Michael was seven, we are pretty close.” said Garza “The members of this community have shown so much love for our family at this time. The visitors keep Michael’s mind off what has happened. Just knowing we have people who are there if we need them is amazing.”

“We had several families contribute meals for us which makes my life so much easier.” said Garza. She provided me with a few examples such as teammate Keegan Otter coming by the hospital with homework and class notes (Keegan’s family also provided meals for the family during Michael’s time in the hospital). Garza also mentioned that the Hopkins family (brother’s Josh and Justin are Hawks football players) came by with cookies as well as contributions from other families. “The meals were

amazing, one less thing to think about” said Garza.

Another challenge that the family has to cope with is the financial burden of the injury. The family still waits on insurance claims and some of the bills may not be covered by insurance which can be challenging for a family of seven.

The Football Booster Club is doing their part to help out as much as possible. They have set up a fund to help pay for medical bills and will continue to raise money through upcoming fund raising efforts. More than $350 was raised at Red Onion Burgers last week for Michael during a Tuesday night football fundraiser and the booster club will continue to collect money for the family by placing a collection jar at their souvenir table at all Terrace football home games this season.

The support that Michael and his family have received has gone well beyond those affiliated with the football program. Garza pointed out that other students and MTHS staff members also visited Michael before he was able to return to school. “Its knowing that the staff and administration at the school cares. Shannon Ripley (Athletic Trainer) checks in on us often, Tonya Benvenuti (School Counselor) took care of schedule stuff, Mr Schwab (MTHS Principal) and Mr Schurke (MTHS Vice Principal) were amazing, making sure I knew to let them know if there is anything I need.” said Garza

Michael continues to improve and still has hopes of finishing off his senior year on a high note. “There is a long road ahead with at least one more surgery. For now he is good, we are looking forward to baseball season” said Garza. Michael was a starter for the MTHS baseball team last year and is determined to be back on the field again this spring.

“This is definitely not how any of us wanted to start his senior year.” said Garza. “We just keep reminding him that there is still a lot of year left.” Garza also takes comfort in knowing that Michael will have “a ton of support from this MTHS community”.

The final two sentences in a recent e-mail I received from Garza are the perfect way to close out this article and sum up who we are at Mountlake Terrace:

“I don’t know if I will ever be able to show just how much everyone’s support means to us! What I do know is that the MTHS community is Amazing.”

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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.
Willits Wednesdays: MTHS and the Football community remind us of how important teamwork is away from the field