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

San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 7:00 PM
Miami
Indiana 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Utah 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Portland 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
Golden State
San Jose 6:00 PM
Boston
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Toronto 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Detroit 6:30 PM
Montreal
Arizona 7:00 PM
Nashville
Carolina 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Chicago
Vancouver 7:30 PM
Dallas
Florida 8:00 PM
Colorado
Tampa Bay 8:00 PM
Calgary
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Are you happy to see the Royals in the World Series?

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