Column: Fill "The Al" for Erin
By By Jay Sorgi
Women's regular season college basketball games on Tuesday night are typically not must-attend events.
Tuesday's Marquette-Syracuse game at the Al McGuire Center is a rare exception.
It's because of Marquette senior guard Erin Monfre, a rare individual who not only produced a rare performance on a basketball court in a championship setting, but who also offered rare courage in talking about the death of her mother from breast cancer and inspiring others whom have gone through similar circumstances.
Back on Jan. 25, 2008, Erin's mother Maureen died of a disease that has ravaged countless families. On that day, Erin and her family were at her bedside.
Erin was courtside five days later as Marquette took on Georgetown at the Al McGuire Center, and the crowd gave her an amazing response just for hitting the hardwood after being hit by such hard news.
"And before the game, there was the moment of silence so people who were at the game were informed. (There were) a lot of different people coming up to me, which is huge because you feel the support. You hear it. So many people at Marquette, the Marquette family, who care."
"Definitely she was watching over me," remembers Erin.
"You hit that shot, and it feels good, the adrenaline that you have, and it's just a lot of fun. Of course, you knew she was there watching and helping."
A few days later, we had the chance for a rare, teary-eyed conversation about Erin's experience, and she impressed us with her willingness to open up about her painful experiences and the solace and strength she's recieved after those amazing days.
Immediately after we told her story, countless e-mails and phone calls, some with tears on the other end, came in to us mentioning that they're praying for Erin, giving countless stories of their own similar situations.
Her openness, and courage, brought strength to so many.
It's now a few months after that triumphant week, and Tuesday night is Erin's first game after the anniversary of her mother's passing.
First anniversaries of deaths are always hard. Having not lost a parent yet, I can't imagine the emotions, questions Erin has felt in the last 12 months.
Tuesday night is the first chance, perhaps, each of us in person can give her support by our screams inside the Al McGuire Center.
And at a time when the subject of breast cancer again comes to the forefront with the passing of North Carolina State coach Kay Yow (364 days after Maureen Monfre died), it gives perhaps the most immediate opportunity to let Erin know you're thinking about her, praying for her, giving your support.
Plus, ladies and gentlemen, there's no Bucks, Marquette men, UWM, Admirals or Wave game on the sports calendar that night.
Fill the Al, everyone. Fill it for Erin.