Despite defeat, NP is still “Belle Strong”

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Kelly Secoda

North Penn and Soudertons JV teams coming together before their game. (Credit: Kelly Secoda, Facebook)

In an early-season doubleheader against Souderton Area High School, both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams played with heart, fighting for a win and for a cause. 

Both teams played intense, well-fought games, but in the end, just couldn’t put more points on the scoreboard. Although neither team took home a win, the night was about much more than just basketball. The North Penn community took this opportunity to show their love and support for one of their student-athletes who is battling cancer. Belle Sparango is a senior at North Penn who recently got diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Sparango plays for both varsity field hockey and lacrosse and is very involved in the Special Olympics club. With Sparango being such an active member of the community, it was no surprise when the stands were filled with people to show their support for her and her family.

“I think it just shows we’re not just a team, we are a family and that when someone is going through something, we as a family have to come together and help them through it,” senior starter Joe Larkins said.

As a way to come together and show our unity, not only were the North Penn stands filled with people wearing purple, but so were the Souderton stands. While warming up, both boys and girls teams wore purple shirts with the front saying ‘Fight like a Girl’ and the back saying ‘Belle Strong’, as their warm-up jerseys.

“I think it’s a beautiful thing how everyone came together to show support. There are things bigger than basketball and it really puts things into perspective. It feels good when both teams, opposing teams who are going at it and competing, can take a second to show some unity and to show some support for someone who needs support. It was a privilege to be a part of it and we are thankful to be here,” the Souderton boys varsity head coach Okoteh Sackitey stated.

Although Sparango wasn’t able to be at the game, her dad and younger sister were able to go and capture the beautiful moment supporting their whole family.

It feels really great that both schools can come together and separate their differences as two rival teams. Knowing everyone came together for my sister is a really amazing feeling”

— Mia Sparango

“It feels really great that both schools can come together and separate their differences as two rival teams. Knowing everyone came together for my sister is a really amazing feeling,” Sparango’s younger sister Mia Sparango said.

As soon as you entered the gym all you could feel was the positive and radiant energy. The diversity in the stands ranged from teachers, parents, students, and even graduates. While a lot of these people know the Sparango family, many don’t, and the enthusiasm from everyone was overwhelming.

“I think it was so important because as a community we have built this culture of togetherness,” girls head varsity coach Brianna Cullen stated. “Sports can be fun and competitive, but we have shown that North Penn has a platform to raise necessary awareness of pressing issues. One of our own is experiencing something unimaginable. Now more than ever we need to band together and show that these teams represent so much more than basketball.” 

One of our own is experiencing something unimaginable. Now more than ever we need to band together and show that these teams represent so much more than basketball.”

— Coach Brianna Cullen

The North Penn community will continue to support Sparango and her family through this devastating time. This event just showed that North Penn truly is one big family, willing to come together in times of need. 

“I think it was important because it just shows how yes, we are so-called rivals, but it’s nice to see how we can all come together and support an important cause. To play in the game was actually really cool because of how many people came out to support her and her family. The energy in the gym from both the boys and girls game was super high and positive so it was just a really cool environment,” junior starter Abby Plaugher said.

#FightLikeAGirl #BelleStrong