Ariz. softball players honor equipment manager's ailing wife on championship banner

Ariz. softball players honor equipment manager's ailing wife on championship banner

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Ariz. softball players honor equipment manager's ailing wife on championship banner

Still too sick to leave a hospital room that has been her home for a month, Bridget Alcocer cried when she saw the video Phoenix St. Mary’s senior softball players made for her, unveiling their 2017 Skyline Region championship banner with her name on it.

The wife of alumnus, St. Mary’s historian and longtime equipment manager Frank Alcocer, Bridget became only the second living person in the school’s 100-year history to have a sports championship banner named in her honor.

Bridget Alcocer, 54, has been in the hospital since April 14, after receiving a bone marrow transplant.

She was diagnosed last June with chronic myelogenous leukemia. She received transfusions for platelets and blood three times a week, and underwent chemotherapy in July. But because her platelets levels dropped dramatically and she developed bone marrow aplasia, the next step was the bone marrow transplant.

Alcocer went through chemotherapy while awaiting the donor, which came from Germany on April 22. She has been fighting oral ulcers in her mouth and throat. Because of the chemo, water tastes like rust and food has no flavor, Alcocer said. For 19 days, she had trouble speaking and swallowing.

In the meantime, the softball team, led by coach Michael Espinoza, wanted to do something to help with Bridget’s spirits during her recovery.

“The girls wanted to present the banner to her, but Bridget will probably be in the hospital for another week,” Frank said. “I thought the next easiest way was to videotape the girls. I then shot a video of Bridget in her hospital bed watching the video, crying as she realized what happened. I then forwarded the video to the girls.”

Longtime voice of the Knights, Tom Ciani, was the first living person to have his name on a championship banner at St. Mary’s. The 2003-04 girls basketball state championship team honored him with that.

Ciani died in 2012.

“Receiving a banner as a player or a coach is always an honor,” said Frank, who played football and graduated from St. Mary’s in 1982. “But for Bridget to have her name associated with the softball coaching staff and that group of girls was very emotional.

“I am still in awe when I look at it. … Since watching Dallas Escobedo, she has enjoyed watching St. Mary’s softball.”

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