When your team gets down at the end of the game and it doesn’t look like there is any hope, think of Evan Knoblauch.
If you’re running a race and don’t think you have the strength to finish, think of Evan Knoblauch.
Football teams, when you need to make a goal-line stand this season, think of Evan Knoblauch.
If you’re down to your last out and last strike, think of Evan Knoblauch.
The next time you are having a bad day and are at wits’ end, think of Evan Knoblauch.
Evan Knoblauch never gave up, fighting the good fight to the very end.
Sadly, Evan lost his fight, succumbing to his cancer Wednesday afternoon. He was 20.
Evan, a gritty, tough-nosed football and baseball player from St. Bede, will never know how many lives he has touched and people he has inspired since he was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma on the eve of the 2017 baseball season.
The St. Bede softball team drew inspiration from Evan on their way to a third-place state finish this spring. The first place they stopped on their parade home was at the Oglesby Fire Department to visit Evan, who sat proudly in the fire truck.
In the midst of cancer treatment, Evan continued to follow his dreams to become a firefighter. The Lady Bruins were inspired by him to follow their dreams.
Bill Booker, head baseball coach and assistant football coach at St. Bede, said words can not begin to express the St. Bede family’s feelings of sadness.
“Evan is our Captain, a warrior, a teammate, a firefighter and our hero,” he said.
Directing a Facebook message to Evan, Booker added, “The only comfort we can find at this moment is you are pain free. God Bless all who’s lives you have touched. We love you and proud to say we were your friend. Rest easy EKSTRONG 25/63.”
Mike Bima, assistant baseball and football coach at St. Bede, said Evan was one of the greatest kids he’ll ever meet.
“He has been an inspiration and has changed my life,” Bima said.
St. Bede will continue to hold “Evan’s Special Night” and flag football event as scheduled Friday night, now which will be a celebration of his life.
We will never understand why great kids like Evan and Ben Bokas of Mendota, Cora Peters of Bureau Valley and little Lily Rosploch, as well as Brett Thompson of Walnut and Steve Hamacher of LaMoille years ago, are taken from us by this dreaded disease. We just have to trust in the Good Lord.
I also think of the other young athletes we’ve lost in my time here, like Mike Crawford and Mike Swanlund of LaMoille, Tyler Harrison of St. Bede (DePue), Blaine Foster and Daniel Lule of Hall and most recently, Karl Soliman, 12, from Mendota.
We have lost them all much too soon, but their memories will live on with each of us who knew them.
• Ring the bell: In the wake of this sad news, I also wanted to share some good news. Make that wonderful news.
Little Marissa Marquis, the 4 1/2-year-old daughter of Bureau Valley coach Jason Marquis and his wife, Stephanie, will get to ring the bell Friday morning in Peoria signaling she will be done with her chemo treatments.
She was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2017 when she was just 2 1/2. While no longer facing chemo treatments, she will have monthly checkups for a year.
Marissa wanted to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s after ringing the bell, but doctors put that on hold. Instead, Jason said they have rented a couple of bouncy houses to let Marissa jump for joy.
Marissa was able to accompany her parents to the FCA Camp in Pella, Iowa, this week. Jason said she has been able to attend VBS for the first time this summer and will get to enroll in preschool this fall.
“We feel very blessed, but our hearts ache for the Knoblauch family,” Jason said.
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at email@example.com.