Basketball Team Gives Back


Maddy Benda

Cancer Patient Rhylan Lopata, 5, who is currently undergoing chemo therapy, sat the bench with the Varsity Basketball Team on February 2 in which they won against Fort Osage 71-52 at the Falcon Fieldhouse. The team named him and his brother honorary coach for the night. “It made me feel good to help someone so young going through something so hard,” said sophomore varsity player Bennett Holloway, “It was really inspiring to watch him go through something like cancer and help him through that.”

Over the past couple weeks there has been more meaning behind the Boys Varsity basketball games. Along with winning the team is focused on giving back to the community.

To kick off their season the boys took a trip to harvesters, which they do every year.  On December 30, which was their winter break, all levels of the basketball team made the trip down to harvesters where they spent the day packing back snacks.  They use this opportunity as both a way to serve others and to bond with each other in preparation for the upcoming season.

“We were able to help the less fortunate by packing back snacks. It’s like lunches for kids who don’t have food,” said sophomore Nicholas Rumbo.

The players then had a night to honor and give back to their favorite teachers.  Each player invited their favorite teacher and honored them by walking them onto the court and presenting them with a gift.

“I think it was pretty cool. I had just moved here and didn’t know very many many teachers, but it still felt good to honor them,” said senior Toni Omazić.

Every teacher was smiling the whole time and many stuck around for the game after where Staley beat Fort Osage High School 71-52.

On February 5th the boys took on Oak Park in the 4th annual “Battle for the Cure” which raised money for juvenile diabetes.

“It was really special to see all the people who fight diabetes and as we came back with from a 16-point deficit all for them,” said Senior Toni Omazić.

Rhylan Lopata, a 6 year old cancer patient, was invited by Coach Wheeler to sit on the bench as an honorary coach.  Bennett Holloway sat next to Rhylan during the game.

“Rhylan was a huge support for the team and really inspired all of us,” said senior Toni Omazić.

The one thing that really hit the basketball team hard was when one of their own, Cayden Hoth, was in a car accident after attending a varsity basketball game.  The whole community pulled together and was able to support him while he is currently undergoing treatment in Colorado.

“It felt so good to play for him. I had his name on the tape on my wrist and on my shoes,” said sophomore Nick Rumbo.

Both Cayden and his brother are part of the rest of the basketball program and the team felt that they needed to do something to support him and his family while Cayden recovers.  The game featured t-shirt sales, student section poster contest, a 60/40 raffle, and a paper airplane contest during halftime.

“I was just thinking there was no way we could lose after everything he was going through. That win was all for him,” said sophomore Nick Rumbo.

The basketball team continues to work hard on and off the court in a continued effort to support both their school and community.