Lauren’s Watching: Hoopfest team loses a member, gains a guardian angel

Lauren’s Watching: Hoopfest team loses a member, gains a guardian angel

A group of friends that met in the Air Force has played together in Hoopfest since 1994. They change their name every year, but this year the change came last minute after an important teammate passed away.

Now, their play is dedicated to a member watching from the best seat in the city.

“We were all in the air force so we came back year after year no matter where we were in the world,” says team member Tom Gamble. “It was really special to play with the same two guys year after year and pick up another guy.”

This year was supposed to be another year together as they were already registered under the name “Broken Hip Checks,” but life had other plans.

“I think it was on St. Patricks day we got a call, that Lauren had a massive heart attack and he was in the hospital,” said team member Ted Strom. “Didn’t know anything about it when we went up there and probably about 6 or 7 hours later, he passed away which was devastating to us.”

“Shock, disbelief, extreme sadness for a guy that was so young, he was only 52 years old,” Tom said.

Their teammate, their friend, their brother, gone. But since Hoopfest meant so much to Lauren, these friends would march on, with a little help from the Hoopfest office to change their name.

“He would not want anyone to just stop even though his life stopped, ours keeps going. So when I found out they changed the name it was heartwarming for me,” Ted said.

“We did as much to honor him as we did to honor her. So it was special for Hoopfest to let us do that,” Tom said.

They’ve all known this day was coming, and while they were excited to hit the streets one more time, it was different to be there, without Lauren.

“I talked to his wife Sharon, the moment I saw her, her and I both started crying. It was emotional for her, emotional for all of us. That first game the first time we step out on the court is going to be tough”.

“I know he is going to be watching over these guys today, and they will win. They will win.”