Updated: January 25, 2020 02:40 PM
Only standing room remained at the Star of the North hockey tournament Friday evening where the Grand Rapids Squirts and the public alike honored the life of nine-year-old Marshall Bader, a hockey player from the Grand Rapids area who passed away in a tragic accident on his family’s farm earlier this week.
“Marshall is one of those special kids, you know. He’s just small in stature, big heart. A competitor—always had a smile on his face. I’ll remember those freckles and that big smile forever,” Andrew Shermoen, Coach for the Squirts A team said. “He earned the nickname ‘Turbo’ from his work ethic and determination and charisma and was just one of those larger than life people.”
The goal for Friday’s tournament—the first game the Squirts would play without their dear friend—was to 'Fill the Rink.' That, they did.
“Tonight is about Marshall, it’s about part of the grieving process for the boys whether they win or lose, you know. Go out there, have fun and play like Turbo would, you know. Give it everything you’ve got. If the chips fall, the chips fall, but tonight is about Marshall,” Shermoen said.
The game began with a letter from Marshall’s family—read by one of his beloved coaches, thanking the public for their outpouring of love and support.
In the letter, the family said that when they signed Marshall up for hockey years ago, they had no idea that they would make lifelong friends who would stand by them through this tragic time.
After the letter, a moment of silence was held for the young athlete. This was broken by the reading of each player’s name and number. When Marshall’s name and number was read, cheers sounded throughout the arena and many of his teammates held up fives in line with Marshall’s number. These fives matched the stickers on the their helmets and the patches on their jerseys that they designed in Marshall’s honor.
“We’ve kept the team together all week—ever since we got news of the tragic accident on Sunday. They got together, they designed the stickers, they designed patches that are on their jersey, they created the memory board with hockey pictures, other pictures—friends over time,” Shermoen said.
Throughout the crowd, orange hats, ribbons and hoodies could be seen and on the ice, the players gave it their all.
In the days leading up to the game, hockey families across the region placed sticks outside their homes in a movement that became known as 'Sticks Out For Marshall.'
The movement quickly gained momentum on social media. On Wednesday night, the Minnesota Wild tweeted a photo of their hockey sticks with the caption 'Sticks Out for Marshall.'
The hockey community is continuing to work to support the Bader family through donations.
A memorial fund has been set up by the family to honor Marshall’s memory for those who wish to donate directly. Checks are payable to the ‘Marshall Bader Memorial Fund’ (C/O Deerwood Bank PO Box 429 Grand Rapids, MN 55744).
A Go Fund Me has also been created by loved ones. The link for that is here.
Additionally, the Grand Rapids Hockey Association will be selling the stickers Marshall’s teammates made in his honor early next week. Toni Palecek will be taking requests for these via email (email@example.com). Proceeds from the stickers will go to the Bader family.
Updated: January 25, 2020 02:40 PM
Created: January 24, 2020 09:15 PM
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