Marion basketball players honor family of brothers killed in crash

December 16, 2017 12:55 AM

The Friday night basketball game at Marion High School brought an emotional display of solidarity in the face of tragedy.  “Tonight is… mixed emotions… memories,” said Marion High varsity basketball coach Terry Krocke.

Before the game, the basketball team presented memorial jerseys to the family of Marion High Junior Evan Woodward, 16 and his brother Marion graduate Taylor Christie, 20, both of whom died in a car crash in November.

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“The basketball team is a family,” explained Marion graduate Rodney Delyser who played with both Evan and Taylor during his time with the Marion Black Knights basketball team.

The presentation brought loud applause and quiet, intense hugs.  It was a gesture of support that came out of weeks of consideration and talks between the school’s psychologist and members of the team according to Marion High Principal Nick Ganster.  “They needed to make sure that was done in a way that the family knew that the team was behind them as they work through this,” Ganster said.  “So they wanted to make sure that was done at a game.”

The deaths of Evan and Taylor rocked the school but hit especially hard in the basketball team.  “There’s a group of boys on this team who have been friends for years,” Krocke explained.  “And it’s like they’ve lost their brother and their best friend. And it’s been hard on them.”

The brothers evoked strong memories in teammates and classmates who remembered Taylor’s daunting size always being cancelled out by his friendly personality and recalled Evan as a talented athlete striving to improve but also a source of fun.

“You go into a room,” Delyser recalled.  “You see Evan. You just smile. It’s automatic. He’d always want to crack a joke or be singing songs. We had a signature handshake that we did too. He just… He was everybody’s best friend. Everybody’s.”

The weeks since the accident have been a roller coaster of emotions.

“We all cried,” said Krocke.  “We all laughed. I said ‘take the tragedy. Forget the tragedy. Remember a good moment.’”

In memory of the brothers, the Black Knights planned to keep Evan Woodward’s name in the team’s programs for its games, and keep his name on the gymnasium wall beside the scoreboard during games.  The program for the Friday night game declared the school’s 2017-2018 season was dedicated to Evan.


Charles Molineaux

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