Shared season of inspiration at Woodbury

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 25, 2012 - 7:30 AM

Woodbury QB Sawyer Moon and his terminally ill father, Glen, have learned to live in the moment.

hide

Glen Moon — standing behind his son, Woodbury QB Sawyer Moon — teased one of Sawyer’s teammates at a team dinner. Glen never misses a Royals game despite having a terminal case of esophageal cancer, with humor being a favorite coping mechanism. “I joke about it because it’s a reality I can’t change,” he said.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

As Glen Moon gazed up at the empty bleachers, memories began to recreate themselves.

"That is our spot," said Moon, father of Woodbury varsity quarterback Sawyer Moon. "We claimed it since we moved here."

At the top of the steps on the north end of the press box, Moon has created a sanctuary. In this corner throughout the past 15 years, he forged a bond with Sawyer, who grew up by his side watching the games in which the senior now plays.

It's become a habit for Sawyer to look up at the spot where he used to sit in his father's lap and dream about becoming a Royal.

"Sometimes I look up there to see if he's not there, but he always is," Sawyer said. "It just makes me glad. He's never late. He's always there before kickoff ... which is pretty cool.

"Even last year," added Sawyer before his voice trailed off and cracked, "yeah."

A year ago last Friday, the teenager learned his father had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. The news came only hours after the Royals defeated crosstown rival East Ridge in overtime. Sawyer and running back Quran Al-Hameed still were celebrating the victory when Glen joined them in his son's room.

The two teenagers choked back tears as the trio sat on Sawyer's bed, absorbing a life- changing moment. Then they tried to turn their attention back to football.

Since then, football, sports and life for all of them never have been the same.

"It's been kind of rough," Al-Hameed said. "I've seen the stress, but [Sawyer] doesn't really show it. But I can kind of tell it's there."

Fulfilling a dream

Talking about an opponent's defense is much easier for the senior quarterback than recapping the past 12 months of his father's fight with cancer. Sitting at home with his parents, Sawyer's responses are muttered as he distracts himself by petting his dog Chaz or doing anything else that will help ease the process.

"Last year when he said that the cancer didn't go away, the first thing that came to mind was that I wanted him to see me play football. I know that was his dream, to see me play at the varsity level, "said Sawyer, also a varsity baseball player. "I didn't know if he'd be there for the rest of the season. I wanted to make more of him being here and make him proud."

Glen made it through Sawyer's junior season as varsity quarterback before the family, including wife Connie and two daughters, endured what is known as the worst month in the Moon household. With doctors unable to surgically remove the tumor in February, Glen's diagnosis became terminal.

The cancer had spread to the outside of the esophagus and its contact with other organs made it inoperable. If more chemotherapy was pursued, doctors estimated that Glen had two more years of quality living. He recently completed more chemo and the tumor stayed the same size. Glen called it "better bad news."

Last week, while watching Sawyer prepare for the East Ridge game, Glen joked about the failed procedure seven months earlier. Bouncing back and forth from serious to humorous, he recalled asking the surgeon for a refund.

It wouldn't be like Glen to remain serious for long. He carries around an invisible "cancer card" that he said provides a lot of perks.

"I joke about it because it's a reality I can't change," Glen said. "We don't know when it's going to happen."

The family's goals have become short-term, with not much talk of next year. But four weeks into Sawyer's final year leading the football team, Glen said "things are good right now" with his health. He still works at the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

The diehard sports enthusiast also always has an opinion about the Royals' most recent performance. The team is 2-2 but he's convinced that the losses should have been victories. He's equally certain that Woodbury can beat Cretin-Derham Hall when they play Oct. 12.

A groundswell of support

Moving through the halls of Woodbury are students and faculty wearing shirts and wristbands branded with encouraging messages for Glen Moon. Support for him has reached far beyond family and close friends, including two fundraisers held earlier this year. A community staple for his involvement in youth sports and now at the high school level, Glen is someone who is hard not to know in Woodbury.

"When I see someone I don't really know or don't talk to all the time wear a [Over the Moon for Glen] shirt, it's pretty cool to see they care," Sawyer said. "I tell them 'That's a sweet shirt.' It makes me happy."

Glen jokes about enjoying being the center of attention, but his genuine appreciation for the support is obvious.

Through Glen's tough exterior and playful personality, Sawyer knows his dad is blessed by all the support.

"I just know he's proud," Sawyer said. "I just know because I look up [to our spot] and he'll have a smile on his face."

Woodbury football coach Andy Hill never will forget the brief conversation he and his quarterback shared a year ago. Few words were exchanged, but each left stronger than before. Said Hill: "I guess we just started moving forward."

Glen smiles at this response, knowing it mirrors his own. He's stopped worrying about "what if" and living for certain milestones. He survives "just knowing it's today."

It's one more day to see his son peek up at the crowd to catch a glimpse of that comforting smile.

  • related content

  • Prep athletes of the week

    Tuesday September 25, 2012

    Stillwater cross-country star Wayde Hall likes the motivation that comes from being Class 2A's No. 1-ranked runner on the No. 1 team.

  • Playing the 'cancer card' eases strain

    Monday September 24, 2012

    As he battles esophageal cancer, Glen Moon has used his sense of humor to play what he calls the "cancer card."

  • Monday's prep results

    Tuesday September 25, 2012

    MONDAY

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Golden State 111 FINAL
Orlando 96
Brooklyn 99 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Portland 105 FINAL
Charlotte 97
Washington 87 FINAL
Cleveland 113
LA Clippers 104 FINAL
Detroit 98
New York 102 FINAL
Dallas 109
Toronto 126 FINAL
Atlanta 115
Milwaukee 103 FINAL
Minnesota 86
Sacramento 89 FINAL
Houston 102
Utah 82 FINAL
Oklahoma City 97
Indiana 100 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Denver 112 FINAL
Phoenix 120
Memphis 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 93
Winnipeg 2 FINAL
Buffalo 1
Washington 2 FINAL(OT)
NY Islanders 3
Philadelphia 2 FINAL
Detroit 5
NY Rangers 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Carolina 0 FINAL
Florida 1
Toronto 3 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Minnesota 0
Chicago 3 FINAL
Colorado 2
Calgary 2 FINAL
San Jose 0
Robert Morris 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 61
Rochester College 35 FINAL
Eastern Mich 68
Marist 68 FINAL
Fresno State 64
Butler 74 FINAL
North Carolina 66
Liberty 50 FINAL
Morgan State 51
Denver 57 FINAL
Belmont 78
American Univ 64 FINAL
Hampton 60
Sacred Heart 72 FINAL
James Madison 79
Northeastern 54 FINAL
Massachusetts 79
Samford 71 FINAL
Kennesaw St 84
ULM 48 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 61
Hawaii 75 FINAL
East Carolina 73
Missouri 74 FINAL
Chaminade 60
UCLA 65 FINAL
Oklahoma 75
North Florida 72 FINAL
Elon 65
Oral Roberts 69 FINAL
Milwaukee 66
Chicago State 61 FINAL
Western Carolina 66
Purdue 87 FINAL
BYU 85
Furman 54 FINAL
Duke 93
San Francisco 72 FINAL
Evansville 79
Wisconsin 72 FINAL
UAB 43
Davidson 95 FINAL
UCF 69
Albany 75 FINAL
Colgate 71
Longwood 66 FINAL
George Washington 91
Delaware State 76 FINAL
Iona 126
Trinity Baptist 57 FINAL
Jacksonville 69
Cleveland State 33 FINAL
Louisville 45
St Johns 70 FINAL
Minnesota 61
PSU-Harrisburg 42 FINAL
Navy 67
Richmond 72 FINAL
NC State 84
Grambling St 54 FINAL
Notre Dame 81
Georgia State 83 FINAL
Oakland 78
Campbell 64 FINAL
Ohio State 91
Goucher 43 FINAL
Towson 97
Bryant 47 FINAL
Vermont 73
Miami-Ohio 63 FINAL
Virginia Tech 78
Mount St Marys 49 FINAL
Wake Forest 83
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Yale 82
UMKC 63 FINAL
Youngstown St 66
Canisius 60 FINAL
Cornell 67
Va Military 72 FINAL
West Virginia 103
Lehigh 86 FINAL
DePaul 74
UC Riverside 62 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 66
Morehead State 77 FINAL
Marshall 68
Miss Valley St 52 FINAL
North Texas 67
UNC-Asheville 75 FINAL
South Carolina 89
Tenn Tech 65 FINAL
SE Louisiana 86
Texas Southern 59 FINAL
SMU 72
Radford 50 FINAL
TCU 74
TX-Pan American 48 FINAL
Utah 85
Wayne St-NE 69 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Kansas State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 70
Northern Ill 49 FINAL
Iowa 70
Fla Gulf Coast 45 FINAL
Green Bay 59
Carroll (MT) 52 FINAL
Montana 75
Florida A&M 33 FINAL
New Mexico St 78
Auburn 71 FINAL
Oregon State 69
Eastern Ky 73 FINAL
Southern Utah 64
Stetson 41 FINAL
Wyoming 65
Northern Ky 60 FINAL
Eastern Wash 81
Utah Valley U 60 FINAL
Idaho State 57
Florida 65 FINAL
Georgetown 66
Northwestern 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 61
Georgia 76 FINAL
Gonzaga 88
Cal Poly 52 FINAL
California 72
Utah State 70 FINAL
UC Davis 77
Arizona 61 FINAL
San Diego St 59
Alabama State 68 FINAL
North Dakota 75
Portland State 63 FINAL
CS-Northridge 55
Tulsa 58 FINAL
Oklahoma State 73
Pacific 71 FINAL
Alaska-Anchorage 62
Missouri State 61 FINAL
Colorado State 76
Ohio U 24 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 21
LSU 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Kennesaw St 74 FINAL
Seton Hall 77
Northern Ill 46 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 55
Illinois-Chicago 40 FINAL
Northwestern 61
UT Martin 75 FINAL
Samford 79
Niagara 63 FINAL
Binghamton 52
Radford 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 72
East Tenn St 69 FINAL
Indiana 97
North Dakota 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 52
Marshall 49 FINAL
Cornell 58
Oral Roberts 43 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 54
LSU 0 Postponed
Texas-El Paso 0
Boise State 59 FINAL
Yale 53
Evansville 39 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 83
(4) Tennessee 63 FINAL
Chattanooga 67
Delaware State 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 73
Bradley 74 FINAL
Columbia 81
Providence 56 FINAL
Dayton 72
Presbyterian 43 FINAL
Xavier 45
Albany 64 FINAL
Canisius 59
VA Commonwealth 48 FINAL
William & Mary 56
Alabama A&M 44 FINAL
Alabama 75
Colgate 35 FINAL
(22) Georgia 66
Memphis 75 FINAL
Southern Ill 82
Oakland 64 FINAL
(16) Michigan State 79
Utah Valley U 49 FINAL
UC Davis 59
Butler 62 FINAL
BYU 81
TX-Pan American 45 FINAL
(6) Texas 72
McNeese State 27 FINAL
(7) Texas A&M 93
Milwaukee 80 FINAL
Marquette 85
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
TX-Arlington 80
Jackson State 70 FINAL
Chicago State 60
Indiana State 74 FINAL
South Alabama 53
Kansas State 0 Postponed
Santa Clara 0
Long Beach St 69 FINAL
Alaska-Anchorage 60
Iona 49 FINAL
Kansas 90
Fresno Pacific 60 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 82

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will the Gophers bring home The Axe?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close