Lance's Journal: Falls City's Special Season, Mar. 20, 2014

Kathy Bartek was all about making a difference. She was a caring nurse and she served on the Falls City school board for 25 years.

She was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in May of 2012.

Kathy lost her battle with ALS last summer, but the Falls City boys basketball team is making sure that her legacy is long remembered.

Kathy's daughter Amanda got a big surprise before the first game of the season, "We had gone in the locker room and they were all standing there and we still didn't know what was going on and Reese said that, 'We just wanted to you guys to know that we have these blue shoelaces on and we're wearing them this whole season for your mom. We know she really enjoyed this program and she was a huge supporter for us and we want to dedicated this season to her.'"

Blue is the color for ALS awareness and the blue shoelaces served as constant reminders for Reese Hogue and his teammates, "Just lacing them up before games and just looking at the shoelaces and just knowing that we're playing for her, we're playing for our town. We need to give everything we have on the court and we're going to do it showing off these shoelaces."

Don Hogue's Tigers topped Lincoln Christian in last week's district final game and took a magical moment to honor the Bartek family during the postgame celebration. Tom Bartek explains, "Coach Hogue and the kids afterwards, after they'd won the game got together in a huddle and looked up in the crowd and I could see Coach Hogue yelling, 'Where's Bartek? Where's Bartek?' and I raised my hand and the girls were right there too and they all got together and did their "KB" it was a neat tribute to her."

Mitchell Harling was proud to share in that touching salute with Kathy's family, "Coach Hogue thought it would be great to recognize them and point them out and just show to the family how much it's meant for her to be along, even though she's not here, be along for the ride and be an integral part of the season."

Reese added, "Just knowing that we're not just playing for our whole town and for our school, but we're also playing for someone else that's really close to us and really cared about this community. Just having someone there to look up to pushed over that edge it got us over a few games I believe this year."

Coach Don Hogue believes his team has learned a lot this season, "All these boys believe that teamwork is a togetherness thing and just to see how tight the Bartek family is, I really feel the kids just piggybacked off of that."

This season has been a wonderful ride for Kathy's daughter Laura, "I had no idea that 2 blue shoelaces and 2 letters of the alphabet, a way to breakdown a huddle and 14 sweaty guys could mean so much to me and to do something so much bigger than themselves."

Falls City will lace up their blue shoestrings and take their 24 and 2 record to the Devaney Center this Thursday morning as they square off against Wahoo at 10:45am.