When the women’s basketball team takes the court for its opening game Nov. 2 versus Mount Saint Joseph University, it will be much more than a game for all involved – but especially for one of its opponents.
Lauren Hill, a freshman on Mount’s basketball team, has terminal brain cancer, and in order to fulfill her wish of playing “one last game,” the opening game, originally scheduled for Nov. 15 at Hiram, was moved up two weeks and to Xavier University’s 10,000-seat Cintas Center.
Her story, which has garnered support throughout the entire Cincinnati region so much that the game sold out in 30 minutes, has led to an outpouring of support across the Hiram campus. Even though the teams are gathering in the name of competition, they will be very much united as this special day unfolds.
More than 50 Hiram College students will board a bus to the Cintas Center for the game, in support of both Hill and the Terriers. The women’s basketball team has also extended its support by selling “Fight Like Lauren” T-Shirts in the Dining Hall. All proceeds will go to The Cure Starts Now Foundation.
Emily Hays, in her first season as women’s basketball head coach, has led the Terriers in preparing for the game.
“This is my first time being a head coach, and starting two weeks earlier than every other team is something that I didn’t plan for,” she said. “But it’s more about Lauren and not about us. We are just going to go out there and prepare as best we can. We really are honored and privileged to be a part of the game that is so special, meaningful and inspiring to so many and to Lauren.”
She and Athletics Director Ellen Dempsey had no hesitation in moving the game up two weeks in order to fulfill Hill’s wish.
“I’ve gotten a number of e-mails from people that I don’t know just thanking us for agreeing to move the game,” Dempsey said. “My response to them is that it is simply the right thing to do. I know that Hiram can feel good that we are doing this for the right reasons.”
Hill’s determination and outlook, she said, have been truly inspiring.
“Right away, to hear the story about how she has attacked this from the beginning and how she really wants to focus on the experience and the opportunities that she has left, was impressive,” Dempsey said. “We were willing to do anything that we could to try and help make this experience happen for her.”