They were told that Zac Anderson, the 15-year-old brother of Hunter, the team's kicker, had been diagnosed with cancer.
Zac, a freshman at Friendship, is an athlete, too. However, he's found his niche in sports on the basketball court and as a pitcher in baseball.
Zac's February diagnosis of a malignant tumor found near his spine followed what an MRI determined last year to be a stress fracture in his back. He had to sit out of most his eighth grade season because of the stress fracture and this year he's been forced to retreat from basketball because of what doctors at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital have labeled as Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer.
His battle with this disease began a week ago when he underwent his first chemotherapy treatment, one of several to follow in 21-day intervals for the next several weeks.
Zac, according to those who surround him, his teammates, friends of his brother and others, is doing well. In support of him some members of the Friendship basketball team and others in the school's student body have shaved their heads knowing that losing hair is one of the side effects to be expected with chemo treatments.
Rallying to also support Zac and his family, Friendship parents and others are planning an event titled the "Ultimate Tailgate Event" next week. The event was originally designed to formally recognize the football team and present each player with a championship ring. That will still happen. But now there will also be a special recognition for Zac Anderson, one of their own.
Those who attend the "Ultimate Tailgate Event" are being asked to bring and contribute gold and silver jewelry or other gold and silver items they might have that will in turn will be sold to help provide some financial assistance to the Anderson family as they deal with Zac's health crisis.
Zac's father, Todd, is a member of the Friendship staff and serves as the school's high school soccer coach. The entire family, including Zac's mother, Cindy, and his sister, Gracie, is asking for prayers to support them on what they are describing as a "journey" to get Zac well again.
The football team, thrilled with its championship, has put its arms around Hunter and Zac, and according to several who are close to this team and this very special situation, "they have learned that indeed there is more to life than winning championships. There's life itself."
The public is invited and encourage to attend the "Ultimate Tailgate Event" which will be held Saturday, March 3, at Friendship's Ken and Lynn Lester Performing Arts Center at 6 p.m. For the price of a $5 entry fee per person and no more than $15 per family, those attending will have a chance to meet in person the state champions and cheerleaders and be treated to a one-of-a-kind tailgate extravaganza.
There will be an opportunity to buy merchandise recognizing the team and its reign as state champion and there will also be a silent auction with a number special items offered for sale. For more information about this event, persons may call Friendship Christian School.
Chairman and Publisher Sam Hatcher may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.