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'Team Navarre' brings GT, Homestead rivals together for a great cause

Fundraiser helps Homestead coach's cancer treatment

Feb. 26, 2012

On the football field or on the basketball court, they'd rather have root canal surgery without anesthetic than give each other any quarter, but the athletic teams, faculty, students and administrations of Homestead and Germantown high schools do know how to come together for a good cause.

Feb. 23 was a prime example, as during the Warhawks boys 79-71 basketball win over host Homestead, a very enthusiastic combination bake sale, silent auction and a 50/50 raffle were going on in the Highlanders' field house.

There were also comical 3-point and free-throw shooting contests between dueling school administrators as well as tricycle races. The losing Germantown side even had to suffer the indignity of having to wear Homestead jerseys for the entirety of the event.

Everyone else involved was wearing "Team Navarre" T-shirts.

The event succeeded in raising between $8,000 and $9,000 for Homestead special education teacher and soccer and hockey coach Tony Navarre, who has been battling leukemia for more than a year now. Navarre had to spend weeks in a medically induced coma and then recently received a critical bone marrow transplant.

A requirement of the transplant procedure is that the patient has to reside within 30 miles of the transplant facility, which, in this instance, required the family to live at a hotel for 46 days before they could recently return home. Navarre's wife, Molly, is also a special-education teacher in the district and they have a daughter, Adeline

Needless to say, the temporary move was a substantial financial burden on the family and the money raised Feb. 23 will help alleviate some of that as Tony continues to recover.

In short, the night met with wide approval. It also included the annual Homestead Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremonies as well as a game broadcast on local radio and television stations.

Rivalry takes back seat

"I think this took the rivalry to a new level," said longtime Homestead basketball and golf coach Steve O'Brien, who was handling public address duties that night. "It was just a very impressive event. Germantown was so classy to take part the way they did. We all know how intense it can be between these two schools, but what you saw here was two communities coming together and that's what it was all about.

"A special night, a great game and all for a good cause."

A number of people were credited for their work in the event, including Homestead teachers and coaches Joe Ciurlik and Matt Wolf as well as Mequon-Thiensville School District elementary curriculum specialist Kim Fischer, who also just happens to be the mother of 6-11 Germantown basketball center Luke Fischer.

Ciurlik said it was a communal effort.

"There's a handful of people who worked very hard on this," he said, "but the whole staff actually came together on this one. That unto itself was very rewarding, along with the success of the evening. Just a great, great atmosphere."

Putting pride on the line

Many teachers and staff members, many in funny costumes, could be seen walking and selling raffle tickets amid the throngs gathered for the game (as well as the school play). Foot traffic around the tables where the silent auction items were set up (including a signed Germantown team basketball as well as Homestead football memorabilia) was active.

Fischer, who admittedly blushed when she discovered that she was the winner of the 50/50 raffle, got involved because she was a longtime friend of Ciurlik.

"He was the pitcher and I was the catcher on our coed softball team," she said. "We were a very good team then and we're still now (laughs)."

Fischer, who is also a Germantown School Board member, worked hard to get Germantown District Administrator Susan Borden as well as high school Principal Joel Farren involved.

"But they became a big part of the esprit de corps of Germantown that night, because they made themselves a little vulnerable," she said. Farren helped out by working with the Germantown Student Council to pitch in an additional $100.

The tricycle races, using the special large tricycles of the Homestead Special Education Department, were a big hit before the game. The Germantown administrators lost and had to wear the Homestead jerseys until halftime. They could have redeemed themselves and lost the jerseys with the free-throw and 3-point contests at the half, but alas, also lost those, meaning they had to wear the enemy's togs all night.

Administrators talking smack?

Fischer would like to extend this sense of camaraderie even further. Have the opposing administrators take part in little contests before every major athletic event between the schools for a traveling trophy of some kind.

"That way, they could talk a little smack with each other," she laughed.

But the big thing this night, of course, was what was accomplished for the Navarre family. Tony could not be at the event because his intense treatment has left his immune system weakened.

"He just can't afford to catch anything right now," Ciurlik said.

But there was also good news on that front.

"He's not out of the woods yet, but there's more positive news than negative right now," Ciurlik said. "It's getting better for him."

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