The Black Knights pay tribute to the family of Evan Woodward and Taylor Christie, who were killed in a car crash in November.
MARION — The basketball game Friday at Marion High School came on a night of mixed emotions, for varsity basketball coach Terry Krocke and others in the community.
Before the game, the basketball team presented memorial jerseys to the family of Marion junior Evan Woodward, 16, and his brother, Marion graduate Taylor Christie, 20, both of whom died in a car crash in November.
“The basketball team is a family,” said Marion graduate Rodney Delyser, who played with both Evan and Taylor during his time with the Black Knights hoops team.
The presentation brought loud applause and quiet, intense hugs. The gesture of support emerged from weeks of consideration and talks between the school’s psychologist and members of the team, according to Marion High School Principal Nick Ganster.
“They needed to make sure that was done in a way that the family knew that the team was behind them as they work through this,” Ganster said. “So they wanted to make sure that was done at a game.”
The deaths of Evan and Taylor rocked the school but the basketball team was hit especially hard.
“There’s a group of boys on this team who have been friends for years,” Krocke said. “And it’s like they’ve lost their brother and their best friend. And it’s been hard on them.”
The brothers evoked strong memories in teammates and classmates who remembered Taylor’s daunting size always being cancelled out by his friendly personality. They also recalled Evan as a talented athlete always striving to improve but also a source of fun.
“You go into a room,” Delyser said. “You see Evan. You just smile. It’s automatic. He’d always want to crack a joke or be singing songs. We had a signature handshake that we did too. He was everybody’s best friend. Everybody’s.”
The weeks since the accident have been a roller coaster of emotions.
“We all cried,” said Krocke. “We all laughed. I said, ‘Take the tragedy. Forget the tragedy. Remember a good moment.’”
In memory of the brothers, the Black Knights plan to keep Evan Woodward’s name in the team’s programs for its games and keep his name on the gymnasium wall beside the scoreboard during games.
The program for the Friday night game declared the school’s 2017-18 season is dedicated to Evan.