Wellington’s boys basketball team is off to a 10-2 start, the Dukes’ best in a long time.
They’re doing it all while paying tribute to one of their assistant coaches and his late son.
Dukes assistant Tom Guyer and his wife, Brandi, lost their son, Drew, in 2013 after he had a heart attack at a soccer practice. He would have been a senior this year, and Tom coached many of the current Dukes through sixth grade — including Wellington star Maxwell Joppeck, who Tom Guyer coached beginning in the Dukes’ youth program in third grade.
Wellington’s players and coaches dedicated this season to the Guyer family: Their jerseys have patches with Drew’s initials on them, and their warmups also have his name and number on them.
“Our players embrace what Tom brings to our program”,” said head coach Dan Gundert, who teaches third grade and had Drew in class many years ago. “His dedication to still be around the guys that Drew played with is remarkable. For the Guyers to still come into the gym and dedicate their lives to our program shows the amount of strength that they have.
“We talk about it in our locker room. ‘How do we not play hard for a guy that volunteers all his time to a team and a program that he would give anything to see his son play for?’”
Since Drew’s death, the Guyers have worked tirelessly to keep his memory alive. They began a memorial golf outing, which went to establishing an endowment through the school system. Once that endowment was established, they turned their attention to assisting Wellington High School athletic programs.
Through the Drew Guyer Foundation, they’ve donated soccer nets, scorers’ tables and locker room dry-erase boards for the basketball programs, and much more.
After four years of a golf outing, the fifth annual fundraiser for the foundation happens this April 13 — what would be Drew’s 18th birthday. It’ll be part fundraiser, part graduation party and part celebration of Drew’s life. Instead of golf? It’s a night at the races-themed event, featuring … ducklings. Why ducklings? After “daddy,” “ducks” was Drew’s next word when he was a baby.
The Guyers also have found solace in Drew helping other people posthumously, in the form of donation of crucial body parts. His corneas were donated, and a 2-year-old in Missouri has his pulmonary artery, Tom Guyer said. Additionally, Lifebanc has used Drew in its collateral and pamphlets as it educates young adults on the benefits of being organ donors.
“That is extremely powerful, knowing he’s helped others,” Tom Guyer said. “Drew’s story lives on.”
Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or Hammond_joel@yahoo.com.