Bears basketball team rallies around stricken baseball coach; "Light Blue-out Night" set for Friday v. Bellarmine

mwochnick@theolympian.comJanuary 10, 2013 

As soon as coach Luke Salme and his Olympia High School boys basketball team heard the news about Bears baseball coach Todd McDougall, their thoughts instantly turned to “What can we do?”

“We want to help out however we can,” said Salme, who is a fellow teacher with McDougall in the high school’s English department.

McDougall, 42, was diagnosed with a brain tumor Dec. 13, and the recent biopsy results concluded the tumor is a Stage 4 glioblastoma, a very aggressive type of brain cancer. He was discharged from Seattle’s Virginia Mason Hospital on Jan. 2 and is currently at Olympia’s Providence St. Peter Hospital.

The team sponsored a birthday party for McDougall’s twin boys at the Laser Fun Zone in Lacey; Dylan and Andrew turned 9 on Christmas Day. The twins brought a dozen or so friends with them, and three Olympia football players who also play varsity basketball – seniors Alex Johnson and Michael Naipo and junior Mitch Fettig – brought a team-signed basketball for McDougall.

In addition to being the baseball coach at Olympia since 1993, McDougall is the Bears’ longtime defensive coordinator in football.

At 7 p.m. Friday, Olympia plays host to Bellarmine Prep in a key 4A Narrows League showdown at Chick Rockey gymnasium, a game that’s been tabbed “Light Blue-out Night” in honor of McDougall. Coaches will wear the specially-designed T-shirts, and Olympia players also will wear them during pregame warm-ups. Fans in attendance will be asked to wear light blue. All proceeds from the T-shirts, which will be sold at the game, as well as game-day programs will do directly to the McDougall family.

The news of McDougall’s diagnosis especially hit home for Salme, who is a cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with bone cancer at age 10.

“The biggest thing,” Salme said, “is just trying to celebrate (McDougall) and bring any positive attention to him. He’s positively affected so many of our kids and our community.”

Awareness of McDougall has reached a state level, too. Brian Jackson, baseball coach at Graham-Kapowsin High School in Pierce County, has helped spearhead an effort to get every high school baseball program in the state to donate $100. According to White River baseball coach Mike Williams, already six programs have pledged that amount after the information was released Wednesday morning.

“I’m hoping for about 100 pledges,” Williams said.

BASEBALL RETURNS TO MARY M. KNIGHT

For the first time since the late 1980s, Mary M. Knight High School will field a baseball team starting this spring.

In a school-wide survey in the fall, more than 20 students in the small Class 1B school west of Shelton said they would turn out if a team was formed, and the school board approved the additional sport. English and history teacher Steve Powell, a former city editor at The Olympian, will coach the team.

Principal and athletic director John Schultz said a field and pitcher’s mound are currently being built adjacent to the Owls’ football field.

“Second base is by (one of the removable) goalposts,” Schultz said.

And because MMK doesn’t have a fastpitch program, the baseball team will be coed, Schultz said.

This is the second time in five years the school has brought back a sports team. In 2008, the school resurrected its football program after canceling it in 2004. In addition to football and soon-to-be baseball, the school offers volleyball, boys and girls basketball and track and field for boys and girls.

STATE CHEERLEADING CHAMPIONSHIPS MOVED

Because of a scheduling conflict at Comcast Arena in Everett, the state cheerleading championships and dance/drill qualifying Jan. 26 will be moved to Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion on the University of Washington campus. This is the eighth year for the “Salute to Spirit,” a state-qualifying event for dance and drill teams. Following that will be the state cheerleading championships.

“This is very exciting for the student-athletes that will be participating in state cheerleading and Salute to Spirit,” WIAA Executive Director Mike Colbrese said. “The (WIAA) is committed to providing a first-class experience for the student-athletes, fans and coaches for these events, and by moving to Alaska Airlines Arena, I believe we have executed this commitment.”

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 mwochnick@theolympian.com theolympian.com/southsoundsports @MegWochnick

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