A #40 jersey hangs over the locker room door, a reminder of a teammate who is no longer with the team physically, but whose spirit takes the floor every time those boys leave that locker room. On the side of the boys' basketball shoes is a sticker that also serves as a reminder of a missing piece of the team--ADG 40. These are reminders the team chose to do to remember Andrew.
Bill and I also wanted to give each varsity basketball player something to remember Andrew. In Andrew's closet hang beautiful dress shirts with matching ties that, still tied, hang on his gun rack. However, some of those shirts were worn only once or twice. Andrew liked his black shirt with his pink tie the best. I would iron all of his shirts, have them hanging in his closet, ready to be worn on home game days. However, Andrew would continue to go back to his favorite black shirt and pink tie. And on the home game days when he didn't wear the pink tie, he would allow some of his teammates to borrow his favorite tie. After Andrew's death, I thought that I might give his shirts and ties away; but, they still hang in his room to this day. Jacob asked to borrow his pink tie for Homecoming and for a moment I almost told him just to keep it. I was happy when he returned it, so I decided I wanted each of his teammates to have their own pink ties.
On the day Roy selected the varsity team, we asked him to give each varsity player a box. As he passed out the boxes, we asked him to read the following:
Dear Varsity Bulldog Basketball Team~
Once you had a teammate who loved being a Bulldog. One of his proudest moments came last year when he came home to tell us that he had made the varsity team. Tonight you have the same joy—knowing that you will represent Dayton High School as our varsity team. Many nights we would grumble after a game because we felt he hadn’t played enough. His answer to us was always the same—“My job is to help the team, whether it is on the floor for many quarters or whether it is supporting the team from the bench. Roy, Mr. Strong, and Mingsy know what is best and how best I can help this team.” He just wanted to play basketball and he was proud to be your teammate.
Once you had a teammate who had a pink tie. It was the first tie he bought when he became a Bulldog basketball player. He loved wearing that pink tie with his black shirt. He also shared that tie with some of you, so you could experience wearing that pink tie.
Tonight we give each of you your own pink tie. Wear it or place it in a drawer. Please do with it as you wish. However, remember that once you had a teammate named Andrew who loved playing basketball with you.
Bulldog Born. Bulldog Bred.
Tonight, when we walked into the gym, we saw handsome young men, wearing black shirts and pink ties. These same handsome young men played a tough, physical game, winning the first of what, we hope, will be many games this season. After the game, each varsity player came to shake Bill's hand, give me a wonderful sweaty hug, and tell us thanks for coming to the game. In return, we want to tell them thanks. Thanks for honoring our son in so many ways, but especially, for wearing pink ties.