New London basketball returns to court
Bulldogs remember Grant Madsen
By Erik Buchinger
The New London boys’ basketball team honored its teammate Grant Madsen before, during and after the Bulldogs’ 68-50 win over Shawano on Saturday, Feb. 16.
Madsen played for New London and died in a car accident on Sunday, Feb. 10.
“It was a really hard day and very emotional,” New London head coach Kurt Schommer said. “We tried to get the guys to focus on basketball for just a little bit. At times that was the case, but most the time it wasn’t. I’m so proud of our guys for coming out today just for being here. I’m so proud to be part of this community where people support each other.”
The stands were filled, and fans dressed in all white with the majority in special T-shirts recognizing Madsen.
Bulldogs’ player Myles Parker said he appreciated the support from fans from New London and surrounding communities.
“It’s crazy. I knew the support would big just being at the wake and funeral,” Parker said. “Coming here and seeing the bleachers in all white, it’s just amazing to play for a community that shares so much love for the basketball team.”
Schommer said he appreciated the support from the Shawano basketball team.
“I’m also thankful for Shawano because they were so supportive by wearing white as well,” Schommer said. “It was just a really emotional day, and I’m just so proud of my guys.”
Schommer said he is thankful for the support from the Bay conference and surrounding schools.
“It’s been overwhelming in a very good way with all the people who have reached out to our team,” Schommer said. “These individuals, and the Madsen family, it’s just been amazing and I’m so proud to have friends like that. Even opponents and the Bay Conference has been so strong with other schools reaching out. When things like this happen, we all see the bigger picture and it’s not about basketball. It’s about life and being family and living on and embracing each other when others need it.”
Schommer said the team met with the Madsen family and have not been practicing the past week.
“We got to meet at their house, and we met as a team on Monday,” Schommer said. “We didn’t really do anything with basketball until today actually. We had a couple guys come in for an hour or two on Thursday. Everybody grieves differently, and some guys were just not ready yet. Some guys barely pulled themselves up to get going today, but they did it.”
Parker said the team stuck together throughout the week and reflected on Madsen’s life.
“We spent a lot of time together going to see Grant’s family,” Parker said. “When we’re not in school, just spending time together and having each other’s back and talking about Grant and the times we had. It’s really tested us, and our bond is stronger than ever.”
Before the game, a moment of silence was held, and with the team standing at midcourt, the Bulldogs’ players and coaches took off their T-shirts to reveal a shirt underneath that featured Madsen’s name and number.
The game started with Logan Locy kneeling at half court for the first few possessions of the game.
“We were just going to start four guys,” Schommer said. “We’re all just missing something in our lives right now in our heart, and Logan demonstrated we were all missing someone. That was the point of it – that we cannot do anything without everybody on our team. It was just another way we can honor and think about Grant.”
The Bulldogs built a 34-25 halftime lead and never trailed in the second half for the victory.
“I know Grant was watching us tonight,” Schommer said. “[Garret Locy] ended up with 20 points, and that’s Grant’s number. He actually missed his last shot too, and I just know Grant was looking down on us tonight. He’s happy for us.”
After the game, the students stepped on to the court and sang the school song along with the team. Afterward, every player and coach embraced the Madsen family.
“It just shows the type of love you get when someone passes away sadly with the love everyone has for each other,” Parker said. “I know it’s just basketball, but it brings us together and it’s amazing to see.”