Michael 4 Ever
News seems to hit home a little harder in a small town, where everybody knows everybody. Especially when it's bad news. Dawson and the small surrounding communities were shocked by the untimely death Dawson-Boyd senior student-athlete Mike Anyasi...
News seems to hit home a little harder in a small town, where everybody knows everybody. Especially when it’s bad news.
Dawson and the small surrounding communities were shocked by the untimely death Dawson-Boyd senior student-athlete Mike Anyasike, who died March 9 of hypothermia.
Anyasike was respected and liked throughout the community, known as a good student and an exceptional athlete, especially on the football field.
He was set to attend St. John’s University this fall and join the Johnnies football team.
The Blackjacks will honor Anyasike tonight when they open the 2014 season against Russell-Tyler-Ruthton in Dawson. The team will dedicate its season to Anyasike and wear “4 Ever” stickers on their helmets, in honor of his jersey number. Anyasike’s brothers, Joe, a freshman, and Josh, a seventh-grader, both will wear No. 4 this fall to honor their brother.
“We think about it every once in awhile and it’s tough,” said Blackjacks senior lineman Zach Stratmoen. “But I think everybody is handling it well.”
Anyasike, a running back and linebacker, was a vital player on a team that earned a berth in the Class A state championship game last fall. He ran for 1,234 yards and scored 14 touchdowns, and injuries he and backfield mate Dalton Palmer suffered late in the season severely hampered the team in its title game loss to Mahnomen.
Dawson-Boyd won the 2011 state championship and also advanced to the state semifinals in 2012. They did it playing under the motto “Together.” That was where their thoughts turned when Anyasike died.
“I think that summed it up,” said Dawson-Boyd head coach Cory Larson. “The school and the community clung together and were supportive of the family. It was a hard time but, at the same time, it was special to see the amount of support the school and the community had for Mike’s family.”
Students and teammates met in counseling sessions at the school. The counselors were professional and their approach to the situation helped quicken the healing process, Larson said.
Through it all, students and the community gained a greater understanding of who Anyasike was, Larson said.
“He was a kid who was like by everybody,” Larson said. “That’s one of those situations that makes it more difficult because he touched a lot of lives. It wasn’t just a small group of friends who he was close to.”
Dawson-Boyd graduate and former quarterback Joey Lee said players and friends met for a group meal at a church to share memories. A tribute video about Anyasike made by Stratmoen was shown.
“Everybody was there for each other,” Lee said, “and you could see how much he meant to everybody. He had a lot more friends than even his close friends knew about, and it was fun to hear everyone else’s stories.”
Larson said he was confident Anyasike’s classmates would bear up, even at a vulnerable age.
“It’s something they should never have to experience,” Larson said. “But last year’s senior class was one of those that was mature enough to handle it. And they did an excellent job. The things they did after Mike died, for everybody to forever remember Mike, that was pretty neat.”