When I first made the trip to Marquette five years ago, leaving home seemed like a daunting challenge.
As scary as it seemed at first, my fears were soon washed away by the sense of community in both NMU and Marquette.
Recently, I have been reminded of the importance of community at NMU and in the surrounding area.
Sports have a way of bringing people together, but it’s not always about winning or losing.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, Ishpeming High School captured the state football title. Ishpeming had the entire community backing them as their quest for the state championship gained support throughout the area.
After their win, they were escorted into town by the fire department and police officers as cars were backed up for miles to Negaunee in a show of their support.
Maybe even more impressive than the state championship victory was the support the community showed for senior Eric Dompierre.
The MHSAA wasn’t going to let Dompierre, who has Down syndrome, play sports his senior year due to his age.
The community backed Dompierre, starting last year with t-shirts and flyers that read “Let em play.” An online petition was started on Saturday, March 24, 2012. The support flooded in as more than 90,000 people signed. By August of 2012, the MSHAA changed the age limits regarding students with disabilities.
Dompierre, who kicked extra points for the football team, got to be a part of the championship run, but more importantly, the team.
His story has been picked up by Sports Illustrated, and he was recognized in their series “Underdogs.” Dompierre’s story was bigger than wins and losses. It was about being a part of a team and a community.
In Dompierre’s case, the community rallied behind a success story.
This week NMU’s campus has showed that a community can come together even in the wake of a terrible tragedy.
With the events regarding the death of freshman Arianna Alioto, I was reminded the importance of NMU’s community.
I grew up in a small-town and I’ve seen time and time again how these kinds of communities can rally together and truly become a “family” during difficult times.
It sounds cliché at times but in the wake of this tragic event, NMU showed how our campus is a tight-knit family community. Within 24 hours of Alioto’s passing, nearly 200 students gathered in the lobby of Magers Hall before moving to the courtyard to honor Alioto with a candlelight vigil.
Reactions like this show how connected we are as a student body. It puts the more important aspects of life in perspective and shows how much one life can affect an entire community.
With more than 9,000 students, NMU is a moderately-sized school, but it isn’t so big that the student body loses sight of something bigger than themselves. I didn’t know Arianna personally, but I’ve seen the support her tragedy has garnished.
Whether it’s through the vigil, talk around campus or Facebook statuses, there has been an outpouring of compassion in regards to her death. It speaks volumes to Alioto’s character and the character of our school.
I feel for the members of the NMU women’s soccer team who lost their teammate and those who personally knew Alioto. I got my start at The North Wind covering soccer, and I know that is a close-knit squad.
Events like Dompierre’s petition and Arianna’s death show how strong a community we have in Marquette and the surrounding towns. It’s adversity like this that makes this area, especially our campus, a family.
There is no way to express how devastating this event is to Alioto’s family, friends and the NMU community. I can’t begin to understand the pain of the loss, but I am confident that the NMU community will foster support for those affected by this tragedy.
Students looking for additional support should visit Counseling and Consultation Services, located in 3405 Hedgcock between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.