The team, with each player wearing a T-Shirt with the number 20 and the name “Maulden” on the back, boarded the bus following a sendoff by several hundred fans at Gale School.
Head Coach Steve Cheeseman spoke to the gathering, and thanked everyone for their support during the difficult time following the death of 16-year-old player Jason Maulden. Cheeseman told WGIL (as he was boarding the bus) that they leave town with mixed emotions — proud to be going to the tournament, but saddened by the loss of their friend.
“It’s a whole gamut of emotions,” Cheesman said. “These guys have done a tremendous job to get where they are. They’re classy and dignified, and just as good as it gets as ball players, but more importantly, as human beings. Anything we can do to honor Jason and his family, we want to do so.”
Players huddled with the Maulden and Cervantez families prior to boarding the bus to Indiana. Cheesman says it was a touching moment.
“They’ve been great. This is all about them, nobody else,” Cheesman said. “Whatever we can do, we want to do for them.”
Several hundred attended this morning’s sendoff on a trip that the American Legion post pays for. “When you get to this tournament, it really ups the ante in terms of what a big thing is is,” Cheesman said.
Galesburg’s first game in the tournament is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon against Marshfield, Wisconsin. Teams from five states–Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio–are competing to advance to the National Finals in North Carolina next week.