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Oscoda’s sign of sportsmanship wins the night

Courtesy Photo A sign was made for Hillman’s Amelia Burwell and signed by the entire Oscoda varsity volleyball team during a night where they honored Burwell.

OSCODA — On Tuesday, the Oscoda volleyball team welcomed the Hillman Tigers on a special and unique staff appreciation night, during which each player walked out before the game with a staff member.

The Owls 3-0 sweep of Hillman was not the team’s only victory of the night, in fact, nothing Oscoda did during the game compared to the way they won the night before the contest began.

On a night where the Owls were honoring staff members, the Oscoda varsity team chose to honor an opposing player and for all of the right reasons.

Hillman left one spot open on the bench Tuesday in honor of junior Amelia Burwell, who was involved in a car accident last weekend.

The Tigers left the spot on the bench open and draped Burwell’s No. 3 orange and black jersey over the empty chair in support of their teammate.

Courtesy Photo The Oscoda and Hillman varsity volleyball teams get together for a photo, honoring the Tigers Amelia Burwell who was involved in a car accident over the weekend. Oscoda made a sign and placed flowers on Burwell’s spot on the bench before the game started in a tremendous display of sportsmanship.

However, the Tigers weren’t the only ones to support Burwell.

During player introductions, instead of the traditional wave to the crowd after a player is introduced, each Oscoda player placed a flower on Burwell’s reserved chair along with the yellow leis that was placed on her jersey. The leis represented Burwell’s favorite color and the flowers were a get well gift for Burwell.

“No one was expecting it. What they did was really touching because they showed that they cared and that they are thinking of her (Amelia) and us,” Hillman coach Kim Weiland said. “It was very classy and it meant a lot to our kids. These kids know each other through other sports so they communicate and are aware of what happened and what’s going on. It just meant so much to our kids, our fans that were there and our community as a whole.”

The Owls also presented Hillman with a sign cut out shaped and decorated like a volleyball, signed by the entire Oscoda volleyball program that read “Prayers for Mia.”

“We are not the ones that deserve recognition. The Hillman volleyball team showed tremendous strength by even walking into the gym,” Oscoda coach Melissa Curley said. “We just wanted them to know that we are praying for strength for the family, team, school, and community and tons of prayers for healing for Mia.”

The display of sportsmanship and heartfelt gesture surely didn’t go unnoticed. It was appreciated by the Hillman faithful as many were not left with a dry eye, along with the Tiger players wiping tears from their eyes before the game started.

Oscoda’s final act of kindness came after the match. The Owls took the time to meet with Hillman and the two teams got together for a photo with Burwell’s jersey, sign, leis and flowers, while holding up three fingers in honor of the Hillman junior. The Owls also took time to take a separate team photo to honor Burwell.

“The kids were obviously emotional and were even debating on playing the game. It was emotional, but comforting at the same time because what happened was something bigger than a game and I’m proud of our girls and thankful for the Oscoda team,” Weiland said. “This just shows how special it is to live in a tight-knit area in Northern Michigan. It means everything and helps everyone involved. I hope it makes everyone realize just how important every day is and it was a great example of doing what you can, when you can and that’s exactly what Oscoda did, and it meant a lot.”

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