On a night where a former men’s basketball player and student was remembered, both the men’s and women’s teams lost their last regular season games of the season. The women also made the playoffs.
Alex Mirkovic was just finishing his first season as an American River College athlete four and a half years ago when he passed away from Marfan’s syndrome, a genetic disorder usually causing those who have it to grow unusually tall with long limbs and fingers.
Alex wasn’t diagnosed until after his death. He passed away in his family home one morning while getting ready to go to practice.
His father, Dragan Mirkovic, has awarded a player on the team a $500 scholarship during the last home game of every season since then, and on this day presented it to Jay Callis, a sophomore.
A painting of Alex was sat on the bench at halftime and Dragan, along with head coach Mark Giorgi, presented a large check to Callis. Giorgi spoke to the crowd about the kind of player and person Alex was.
“He’s one of those guys you get, who isn’t the best player, but he comes in practice every day, smiles, and works his butt off. And those are the kind of guys you hope you get, and then they develop into players, and that’s what was happening to him before his life got cut short,” said Giorgi after the game.
Dragan wants to give the scholarship as a way of rewarding a player on the team who captures the same spirit of Alex, but also as a way to spread awareness of Marfan’s syndrome.
“My goal is to save lives by keeping (Alex’s) name alive, and remind people this syndrome is out there. And it gives a little boost to the players,” said Dragan.
“You never see anything written or published about Marfan’s syndrome. I want to save somebody’s life, that’s my goal.”
The men’s team went on to lose the game against San Joaquin Delta, 89-72, and finished the season with a 3-23 record, including 0-14 against Big 8 opponents.
The women’s team also lost to San Joaquin Delta that night, 72-55. Sophomores Caresse Williams and Mackenzie Theiler were honored as they played their last home games as Beavers.
Williams scored 24 points and had 11 rebounds, and Theiler had 8 points and 4 rebounds before fouling out early in the second half.
The women’s team finished with a 10-16 record and has their first playoff game today against Laney College, the winner going on to play No. 2 seed Fresno City College.