Marczyk brothers

Holy Spirit High School sophomore Brendan Marczyk with his brothers Stash, 24, middle, Matt, 22, front, and Dan, 19, back. Marczyk, 16, was diagnosed with Perthes disease in February 2018, which occurs when the blood supply to the rounded head of the femur bone is disrupted.

Bone condition doesn’t keep Holy Spirit sophomore from being a part of the team

A degenerative bone condition prevented Brendan Marczyk from playing baseball for Holy Spirit High School.

But the sophomore still wanted to be part of the team.

So, the 16-year-old from Absecon is the Spartans’ manager this season. He keeps score during games. Brendan has a lot of power. He helps decide what’s a hit and what’s an error.

“They’re scared of me,” he said with a laugh about his teammates.

Brendan’s desire to still be part of the team is worth celebrating.

A generation ago, players only had one team per sport.

But these days, high school and youth athletes play for multiple teams. They have their school or town team, their travel team, their second travel team, their high-level AAU team and the team they “guest” with occasionally.

There’s very little loyalty. If a team spots a better player, they grab him or her and send someone to the bench. If a player sees a more favorable situation, they leave their current team and join a new one.

But some teams are still special, and that’s what Holy Spirit is for Brendan.

Brendan’s family is part of Spartans history. His deceased grandfather Stan was the Spartans’ football coach in the 1960s. Brendan is the youngest of Mara and Stash Marczyk’s four boys.

Marczyk’s brothers Stash, 24, Matt, 22, and Dan, 19, all played for Spirit. Matt was the starting catcher on the Spirit team that won the 2015 state Non-Public B championship. Brendan’s father, Stash, was an outfielder on the 1982 Spirit team that won the state Non-Public A title.

Brendan couldn’t wait to pay for the Spartans, but he felt pain in his hip while working out before his freshman baseball season.

“It was a stabbing pain every time I went to run,” he said.

He was diagnosed with Perthes disease, which occurs when the blood supply to the rounded head of the femur bone is disrupted. Without the blood flow, the bone stars to die. Brendan underwent surgery in February 2018. The operation repaired the damage, but his playing days were over.

“It was really tough. Sports was my way of life,” Brendan said. “Not being able to play and carry on the legacy of state championships for my family really hurt.”

But despite not playing, Brendan relishes still being involved in the Spirit baseball program. He not only keeps score, but at home games he helps choose the between-inning music. His go-to-song? Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days.”

“I grew up playing with a bunch of the players on the team,” Brendan said. “I enjoy helping out the team and being around my friends.”

Brendan seems to understand something that is lost on many athletes and their parents today.

Teams are worth being a part of no matter how small a person’s role might be.

Everyone wants to score touchdowns, hit home runs or sink the most baskets.

But not everyone can.

Some of us only play for a few minutes or innings. Some of us sit the bench and cheer for teammates. And some of us keep score.

All of us are at our best when we’re part of team working toward a common goal.

“I’m part of something nice,” Brendan said. “I love it.”

Michael McGarry’s Must Win column appears Fridays in The Press.



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