Former Michigan Hockey Star Scott Matzka Fights ALS …

January 17, 2017 - als

The many constrained sports story of a week couldn’t be found in a NFL playoffs, a college football playoffs, a NBA or a NHL. It wasn’t even televised.

On a initial Saturday of January, a Red Wing alumni group took on a patrol of former University of Michigan players. It was usually an exhibition, that usually mattered to those who suspicion it mattered. But 2,000 folks did, since it mattered a good understanding to a former Michigan star named Scott Matzka.

Scott Matzka Dropping Puck

Matzka grew adult in Port Huron, and went to Michigan in 1997, along with 10 other freshmen. He was a fastest actor on a team, a feisty brazen with a knack for murdering penalties.

In his initial season, Michigan done it to a NCAA finals. In overtime, Matzka upheld to associate beginner Josh Langfeld, who slipped it into a net for a goal, a diversion and a title.

Matzka was also a star student, majoring in mechanism science. He helped his roommate, goalie L.J. Scarpace, get by calculus. After graduating, Matzka played in a U.S. and Europe for 11 years. Along a way, he married Catie, and they had dual kids. When Matzka late from hockey, they staid in Catie’s hometown of Kalamazoo, where he put his grade to good use building software, afterwards consulting. Life seemed flattering great.

Two years ago, while unresolved drywall, Matzka beheld his palm close up, and wouldn’t release. It happened again when he was digging for change in his car. Something was wrong – yet what was it?

After a year of tests, a doctors gave him a answer: He had ALS, also famous as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neurological commotion that gradually robs victims of a ability to control their muscles – and finally, their breathing. It is incurable.

When he told his aged roommate, L.J. Scarpace, they both strew a few tears. Scarpace motionless he indispensable to do something, so he called a few of Matzka’s aged teammates to play in a advantage hockey game. They took over a charge and dull adult all 30 of his teammates in a few hours. Every one of them volunteered to compensate his possess way, drifting in from Miami, St. Louis, Omaha and Las Vegas.

Scott Matzka And Family

Scarpace was impressed. “There are a lot of good humans. we can tell we that.”

When word got out to a Michigan hockey family, they got to work. At a reunion of a 1964 NCAA championship team, one of them asked, “What can we do? We don’t even know him.”

Bob Gray, their goalie, replied, “Know him? He played for Michigan. That tells us all we need to know.”

On diversion night, 2,000 fans showed up. The students filled both their sections, even yet some of them hadn’t been innate when Matzka was a freshman. They got a message. So did a Alumni Band, that came out in full force. When they bloody “The Victors,” it felt like a home game.

The night started with Matzka during core ice. He wasn’t drifting around, terrorizing opponents. He was sitting in a wheelchair, his hands draped in his lap. When Catie hold a microphone for him, Matzka told a crowd, “When we sealed my minute of intent, roughly 20 years ago, we don’t comprehend all you’re signing adult for. And afterwards we learn: You sealed adult for a Michigan hockey family.”

The game’s high indicate was a play by a child named Matzka. Not Scott, yet his 5-year aged son, Owen, who matched adult in a tiny Michigan jersey with his dad’s series 10 on a back. He sat, proudly and patiently, on a Michigan bench, until a second period, when a coaches asked him to take a chastisement shot.

Owen skated a puck toward goalie Marty Turco, who won dual NCAA titles and played 11 years in a NHL. But when Owen shot a puck, Turco couldn’t seem to hoop it. When Turco spun around, he incidentally dumped a puck into his possess net. we gamble he feels terrible about that.

Afterward, Matzka said, “When we see my son wearing that maize jersey, it hits me in a heart. I’m certain Owen will never forget that idea opposite Turco.”

Scott Matzka Fundraiser Game

I’m certain his father won’t, either.

Matzka’s teammates can’t stop what’s function to their friend. Even a doctors can’t. But a $25,000 they lifted will make life a small easier for Scott, Catie and their kids.

And when Scott can no longer speak, he’ll be means to remember a cold night in January, when he could feel a regard of 2,000 friends.

Best diversion of a week. Hands down.

To minister toward a cost of covering Scott’s unreimbursed medical expenses, check out his My Turn page.

John U. Bacon is a author of 4 New York Times bestsellers. His latest book, Endzone: The Rise, Fall and Return of Michigan Football, is now accessible in paperback with an refurbish covering a 2015 deteriorate and 2016 off-season. He gives weekly explanation on Michigan Radio, teaches during a University of Michigan and Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, and speaks national on care and diversity. Learn some-more during, and follow him on Twitter @johnubacon.


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