Varsity Extra

Rival rallying around Bishop Kelly coach with leukemia

Bishop Kelly girls basketball coach Derek McCormick celebrates with his team after its 52-50 win over Minico in the 4A state semifinals Feb. 19 at Timberline High.
Bishop Kelly girls basketball coach Derek McCormick celebrates with his team after its 52-50 win over Minico in the 4A state semifinals Feb. 19 at Timberline High. kjones@idahostatesman.com

Bishop Kelly girls basketball coach Derek McCormick led the Knights to the 4A state championship game in February. But on March 21, McCormick found himself in a new battle.

Doctors diagnosed him with acute myeloid leukemia, a form of cancer where his bone marrow creates abnormal white or red blood cells or platelets. But as word of his quick turn in health spread, supporters of both Bishop Kelly and Kuna high schools rallied.

A GoFundMe page set up by Bishop Kelly principal Mike Caldwell has raised $27,331 as of Thursday evening, surpassing its goal of $17,000. And Kuna created the McKormick Strong fundraiser, replacing the second “c” in McCormick with the Kuna “K” logo.

“We talk about being rivals with BK, not enemies,” said Kuna football coach Ian Smart, who was an assistant at Bishop Kelly for two years. “So for us, it’s kind of a way for us to say, ‘Hey, we still love you guys. As much as we want to beat you in everything you do, we want to be able to help you out in a time of need.’ ”

Kuna has raised more than $6,000 as of Thursday afternoon, including $4,445 dollars from a one-hour telethon Wednesday, Kuna’s assistant to the athletic director Alice Mickelson said. Its original goal was $5,000.

The school will also host an “Orange Out” for McCormick on Friday, when Kuna’s baseball and softball teams host the Knights at 5 p.m. All proceeds from ticket sales, a raffle of a year-long athletic pass for Kuna sporting events and sales of “McKormick Strong” T-shirts will go to McCormick.

Angelie Bauer, a Kuna teacher who got her coaching start when McCormick hired her as a softball assistant at Borah, said the school chose orange because of his lifelong devotion to the San Francisco Giants.

“We decided on orange and doing some more research, that’s also the leukemia awareness color,” Bauer said. “It’s just little things like that that have really come together to let us know we’re doing a good thing.”

Smart said Kuna’s fundraiser also serves as a repayment for Bishop Kelly’s effort for former Kuna football player Boone Bartlome, who broke his neck during a 2013 playoff game at Bishop Kelly.

“For a small thing we tried to put together rather quickly, it’s pretty amazing the two communities coming together — and such old rivals coming together — for such a good thing,” Smart said. “It kind of restores your faith in things.”

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