The Lake Zurich High School boys’ volleyball team gathered at an early season practice in 2016 and was charged by head coach Lesly Ravencraft with coming up with team goals and mottos for the season.
One of the ideas submitted by senior captain Nick Meyer was the motto “Play4DA”, the “DA” representing Deanna Amos, the mother of fellow senior Nate Amos who was battling ALS at the time.
“Nate is a big part of our team,” said Meyer. “He is a really strong kid, but I can’t imagine what he was going through with his mom being sick. I wanted him to know we were thinking of him and supporting him. That we had his back.”
The team unanimously voted to use the motto and it became even more significant after the first match of the season, a three-game win over Buffalo Grove on March 22, when Nate told his teammates that his mother had been rushed to the hospital that day. Deanna Amos passed away a few days later.
The entire team would attend the funeral together and on April 23 as the team prepared to play in the Palatine Invitational, Ravenscraft handed out arm bands inscribed with the motto “Play4DA” for the entire team to wear.
“She was at every game,” said senior captain Andrew Gilbertson of Deanna Amos. “I can’t recall a game where she wasn’t sitting in the front row cheering for us and for Nate. It (the motto and arm bands) represents team unity. A big part of our success has been how we played together and stuck together as a team. It represents accomplishing this goal of making it to state.”
While playing for DA, the Bears have made history, as the team qualified for IHSA State Finals for the first time in school history with a Sectional Final win over Libertyville on May 31.
“Honoring her is really important to us,” said Meyer. “We all knew her and had a connection to her in one way or another. It hit us hard and we are dedicating this whole historic season to her.”
"This year means so much more than just volleyball," said Nate Amos. "The team has been here for me every step of the way and my team is my family. I'm so glad I can honor my mom by playing this season and the rest of my career for her."