WHEELING - ''We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.'' - Kenji Miyazawa
That is the inspirational message adorned on the back of the warmup shirts for the Linsly boys' soccer team. Below it is the number 14, which is even more of an inspiration for the Cadets.
That is the number worn by senior midfielder Nikhil Dharawat, who last spring was diagnosed with a form of leukemia.
This is the back of the shirt supporting Nikhil Dharawat.
Photo by Josh Strope
''He has been going through chemo treatments since then and it has been hard on all of us,'' Linsly coach Eric Fries said following a game last week. ''He is one our teammates and this is something we are doing to try to raise a little awareness. The quote is a little motivation for us and for him, too.''
The black shirt has Linsly Soccer written in team colors white and orange with a green ribbon to signify leukemia awareness.
''We have to keep him in our hearts and he tries to be here as much as he can,'' Fries said. ''He misses us as much as we miss him. It's hard to have one of your own have something like that. But it raises awareness that not everyone is invincible at this young age.''
The players wear the shirt under their game uniforms. When standout player Jamaal Ebanks scores, he raises his shirt and touches the No. 14.
''Everybody remembers him and wants to keep him a part of this team,'' Fries said.
Dharawat, who is at Pittsburgh Children's Hospital, has made occasional visits to Linsly practice, trying to help as much as he can whether it be picking up balls or running around.
''I told him mom that we need to give this kid a break,'' Fries said with a laugh. ''He is a fighter and he wants to be here. Hopefully we will have him.''
Linsly plans on running a fundraiser in the near future to help raise awareness for the disease.
Wheeling Park's girls' soccer team defeated Fairmont Senior on Saturday to improve to 6-2-2 overall.
If you are a fan of the Patriots, you better write their home games down on the calendar because there aren't very many.
Wheeling Park has played just three of its 10 games at Wheeling Island Stadium with just three games left in the home jerseys.
How does that happen? Even most of their away games are against teams with more than an hour drive away.
The Patriots' next home game is Thursday vs. St. Clairsville.
Speaking of Patriots ...
The Wheeling Park boys' team got off to a rough start and the thought was this may be the year the Patriots tail off.
Coach Mario Julian's squad is right back in the thick of things, after winning four in a row, all shutouts.
Josh Strope can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org