Reigning state champs Bay Port winning on and off the court

High School Sports

Last March the Bay Port girls basketball team won the Division 1 State Championship in thrilling fashion, defeating Middleton 50-49 thanks to Emma Nagel’s game-winning shot in the final seconds.

The Pirates capped of an incredible 27-1 season by bringing home the first gold ball in program history.

11 months later, Bay Port is 19-0 and the top-ranked team in the state in division one.

“I think year over year it’s not as easy as people think it might be,” Pirates head coach Kati Coleman said. “You have teams like Appleton North and Beaver Dam that have done it consistently. Just because you have the athletes, doesn’t mean it’s going to translate to the next year. I’m incredibly proud of them because I know what they’re capable to do, and they’re doing it. This team just wants to win, and they’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

The only thing more impressive than how well Bay Port has been playing on the court, is the amount of good they are doing off of it.

The Pirates partnered with Make-A-Wish Wisconsin this season with the hope of granting a wish to a child in need.

“What we really wanted to do was make sure it was a local Howard-Suamico child, and unfortunately there was two of them,” Coleman said.

Fortunately, the team and the local community proved to be up to the task raising $12,285.74 in just a few months for Make-A-Wish Wisconsin, and granting wishes to both local girls.

“It’s really devastating to know that these two girls even have to put their wish out there and make it, but knowing that we are fulfilling their wish is super-fulfilling and we’re super-excited to do that for them,” said Bay Port senior Alaina Abel.

One of the girls is 3-year-old Lakyn, who was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome last May.

“She wasn’t walking or talking,” said Lakyn’s mother Ashley Lesperanc while describing how her daughter was originally diagnosed with Autism.

“She wasn’t communicating at all,” Lesperance added. “So we pushed to get an MRI and an EEG through her neurologist, and that’s when we found out about Rett.”

Rett Syndrome is a rare genetic neurological disorder that can impair nearly every aspect of a child’s life.

“She’s 1 of 10,000 in the world,” said Lakyn’s father Travis.

Thanks to the money raised by Bay Port and the Howard-Suamico community, Lakyn will have a sensory room installed in her house.

Last year Make-A-Wish Wisconsin granted 396 wishes, and it is estimated that this year more than 500 Wisconsin children will be diagnosed with critical illnesses.

You hear it all the time, a little bit goes a long way,” said Coleman. “But if you really think about it in the grand scheme of things, it really does.”

As the Pirates prepare for another playoff push, they know their success this season won’t only be defined by what happens on the court.

“It’s extremely important,” Coleman said of the numerous fundraisers, events, and clinics the team is involved in. “I don’t think they really realize the impact that they’re making in everybody’s lives by just playing sports, being an athlete and being a community member . It might take some time, but 2-3 years out of high school they’ll finally realize that.”

The Lesperance family says they are grateful for the team’s commitment to helping them and others in the community.

“They supported us,” Ashley said. “They saw this little girl’s wish, and they made it come true.

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