When T.J. Bevans sees all the pink Sartell football players will wear Friday, it will have a special meaning to him.
His mother died from cancer.
“I’m still rattled by it,” the Sartell senior lineman said. “It’s tough to swallow, but I need to bounce back from it.”
Bevans was 11 years old when his mother, Kari Bevans, died from a brain tumor.
He and many of his teammates will wear pink as part of Randy Shaver’s Tackle Cancer Month fundraiser at 7 p.m. Friday when Sartell is host to Bemidji.
Bevans is a senior captain and two-way lineman for the Sabres, who are 1-2. He’s a college prospect listed at 6-foot-1 and 265 pounds, a dedicated weight-lifter who is well-respected among his peers and his coaches.
“He’s probably been our most consistent lineman this year,” Sartell head football coach Scott Hentges said. “He’s a smart kid and very talented physically.”
He also doesn’t have his mother to watch him play.
“She was diagnosed in 1995 a month after I was born and went into remission for 10 years,” he said.
She lived about nine months after the cancer re-occurred. It was tough to take, especially for a kid in elementary school.
“I just turned to my dad (Tom) a lot,” Bevans said. “My family helped me through it. I was pretty young. I didn’t really get it ….
“It turned me to sports. It helped me get my mind off it. I was in basketball at the time and and they were real supportive.”
His sister Courtney, who is three years older and a St. Cloud State student, was important in helping him deal with his mother’s loss.
“I had a lot of support from my sister,” Bevans said. “She was really mature for her age.”
“She’s not only been a big sister,” said Tom Bevans, T.J.’s, dad.
“She’s kind of been a mother figure for him.”
Added Tom Bevans: “She’s done a lot for him over the years, from doing laundry to meal preparation when I couldn’t do it because of work.”
Sartell also had a Randy Shaver’s Tackle Cancer Month fundraiser that raised $800 last year, Hentges said. Shaver is a news anchor for KARE-TV (Channel 11) in the Twin Cities. He’s a former sportscaster and cancer survivor. About 130 football teams participated in the fundraiser last year, according to the KARE-TV website.
“It’s a good cause,” Hentges said.
Bevans, of course, agreed. Most people have been affected by cancer, certainly in their extended families.
“It’s way too common,” he said.
And while Bevans’ thoughts will be on beating a 3-0 Bemidji team, he also will be thinking about his mother.
“For sure, seeing that pink reminds me of it, too,” he said. “It makes me play harder, like I have something to play for, like I have a chip on my shoulder.”
Memories of mom, a Little Falls Community High School graduate, are a little foggy for Bevans.
“I remember going to the North Shore and Grand Marais, the Duluth area, all the time,” he said. “We spent a lot of time in our family cabin near Cushing. I have some fond memories of my mom there.”
His mother’s death from cancer may be a surprise to some. Bevans suspects many on the team don’t know about it.
“I don’t really share it,” Bevans said. “All of my close friends on the team, they know about it.
“Unless somebody asks about it, I don’t tell them really.”
They’ll know now.
“His mom did die of cancer,” Tom Bevans said. “It’s struck especially close to him.
“A lof people are affected by cancer, maybe not in the immediate family. Maybe it’s a grandparent or an aunt or uncle ….”
“I think we made it because of a lot of support from our friends and family,” Tom Bevans continued. “We’ve had a strong support group to help us through.”
* Sartell honors its most recent class of hall of fame inductees during halftime of Friday’s game. This year’s inductees are: Stacie Oistad Aamlid, Ted Ruzanic, Sarah Schellinger, Brad Determan, Ted Plombon, Steve Kimble, Mike Trewick, Teresa (Smoley) Pilarski, Chris Pikus, Brian Stucke, Sarah Bolsen, Dave Angell and Tom Jensen.
Angell is being inducted for his coaching, recently retiring after 29 years as Sartell’s head boys basketball coach. He led the Sabres to the 2013 state tournament.
Jensen is receiving the distinguished service award. The rest are for athletic endeavors.
“I remember looking up to some of those guys when they were playing, some of the younger guys,” Bevans said.
* Defensive lineman Hunter Anderson has a concussion and won’t play Friday, Hentges said. Payton Voss, a junior, will replace him in the lineup.”
* Bevans on Bemidji: “They’re a good team, consistently good for so many years. They keep producing great athletes year after a year. It’ll be a good challenge.”