The bench during a McQuaid hockey game sounds like any other bench in high school hockey.
“Let’s go! Let’s go!”
But there is one voice that is especially important for the Knights to hear.
“One, one, one!”
Cooper Petrone should be on the ice with the Knights, but last summer he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, ending his senior season over before it could even begin.
“Definitely the hardest thing I’ve been through,” said Petrone after a McQuaid game last Thursday. “It’s not just easy losing your leg muscles and forgetting almost how to walk.”
In-between cancer treatments in Buffalo and school at home, Cooper goes to the hockey rink to be with his friends and feel like himself once again.
“I love being around the team,” said Petrone. “Whenever I can I go to practices, games, I love being on the bench and supporting them. Every once and a while it does kill me that I’m not out there playing with them.”
The Knights are dedicating this season to Cooper, and his presence is a constant source of inspiration.
“It gives us more of a drive to do better,” said McQuaid junior David Battisti. “We want to win it for him, we want to go as far as we can, and we want to play as hard as we can every single shift.”
In October, Luke Masaschi and Brady Fitzpatrick, teammates of Cooper on the McQuaid hockey team, set up a GoFundMe page to help the Petrone family pay for Cooper’s medical bills. So far, over $36,000 in donations have been raised.
“Don’t take your life for granted,” said Masaschi. “Appreciate what you have in life.”
Cooper’s last round of chemotherapy is scheduled for February 20th. If all goes well, he’ll then be in remission.
“I would do anything to be normal again,” said Petrone. “I don’t like all of the highs and I don’t like all of the lows, some are nice and some are bad.”
In a sport known for toughness, Cooper Petrone will forever stand out.