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Fennville’s High School Basketball Team Attending ESPY’s Awards

(Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Through tragedy and an undying fire within, the varsity boys basketball team from Fennville earned a national following back in March when they won their district title just days after they lost their star player, Wes Leonard, to a heart attack.

Tomorrow night, the Blackhawks will step onto the national stage again when they take their seats at ESPN’s ESPY Awards in Los Angeles along with some of the world’s best athletes.

“I’m sure our kids are going to be kind of starstruck,” said Fennville head coach Ryan Klingler.

Earning a nomination for this year’s best sports moment, this small town team is honored by this opportunity. Along with that also comes a taste of bittersweetness, knowing that the presence of one teammate will not be there.

“I think you’ll find we’ll be in that ‘awe moment’ and then have some of that empty pit in your stomach when you remember why we’re here or how we got here,” said Klingler.

The Blackhawks will be up against some tough competition. NASCAR’s Trevor Bayne is a nominee for his winning performance in the 2011 Daytona 500. Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay is the other candidate after throwing the second no-hitter in MLB playoff history.

If Fennville wins the award, their acceptance speech will be about promoting AED’s in schools.


“Being ready for sudden cardiac arrest is a huge message and a huge goal of our foundation,” said Klingler.

“If that’s the one thing we can get across from this great opportunity is something I want to make sure happens and something I think as a group and as a team the people that went through it. ┬áIt’s something that’s very important and dear to us.”

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