Bishop Watterson lacrosse honors ALS patient, Tar Heels legend Harden

MARIEMONT - Chris Sauter's greatest pep talk may have been delivered without any words this past Saturday. 

After bringing his Bishop Watterson boys lacrosse team to Cincinnati for a Friday victory over Summit Country Day, his boys were back on the field at Division II power Mariemont Saturday afternoon. By all accounts, the game was a rough and tumble, wet, physical affair at Kusel Stadium. The boys delivered shots to the body and the goal. Altercations were both physical and verbal.

"It was an absolute brawl," Mariemont supporter Tiger Nelson said. "Players were screaming; coaches were screaming. It was a close game."

After the 8-5 Mariemont Warrior victory, Sauter and Mariemont coach Steve Peterson wished each other well and the Eagles boarded the bus for the 108-mile ride back home from the Cincinnati suburb.

Bishop Watterson High School, a Catholic high school on Columbus' North Side.

But first, they made time to honor a legend.

Sauter played lacrosse at Ohio State University and was fully aware of North Carolina legend Graham Harden from his 1991 national championship run with the Tar Heels. That year, Harden was the NCAA's Outstanding Defenseman of the Year.

Harden later became head girls coach and assistant boys coach at Mariemont, a position he held for years until Lou Gehrig's disease robbed him of his motor skills. Sauter's also aware of the inspiration Harden has drawn since his diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the disease he's squared off with since August 2016 with his GForce Game On! organization.

More:Mariemont lacrosse coach Graham Harden is ultimate Warrior battling ALS disease

Now with a feeding tube, the force that paced the Warrior sidelines on his own, then with a walking stick, then with a scooter, is now under 24-hour care at his house.

Mariemont's Charlie Cowart (33) gets some pointers from Mariemont assistant coach Graham Harden in 2019 when he was still able to attend games

However, Harden is able to text. When Watterson's Sauter texted to say he was sorry he couldn't see him, Harden invited him to his nearby residence.

"I was texting with him all the way down," Sauter said. "He said, 'Just come around the corner and lay on the horn!' I thought I'm going to do something better than that."

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