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Edwardsville Tigers Helped Brody Sedlacek Find a New Favorite Sport

By Tom Robinson, 03/20/24, 3:30PM MDT


Sedlacek has become the unofficial mascot for the Tigers and will travel with the team to the Chipotle-USA Hockey High School Nationals

Hockey wasn’t on Brody Sedlacek’s radar until a few months ago. 

Sedlacek preferred playing baseball. However, after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Sedlacek couldn’t play without feeling ill and lost his favorite sport. 

Then the Edwardsville Tigers invited Sedlacek to take part in their Hockey Fights Cancer Challenge series. He not only gained a new sport, but 20 big brothers as well. 

“It’s been more than we could ever (ask for),” Courtney Sedlacek, Brody’s mother, said. “Seven months ago, I had a kid who would not get out of bed.”

Courtney worried Brody was becoming depressed from the toll of his diagnosis and treatment. He had lost weight and needed physical therapy because his muscles were beginning to atrophy.

Brody’s parents tried getting him to ride his bike or walk his new dog, but to no avail.

“He just didn’t want to do anything,” Courtney said.

That’s not the Brody the Tigers have come to know — the one who has surpassed his pre-diagnosis weight, is regaining strength, has learned to skate and is starting to develop his own hockey skills. 

All of it is part of trying to emulate a group to which he looks up.

“It’s nice knowing somebody else was that into what we were doing,” Kai Vetter, the Tigers goalie, said. “You can’t stop working when you know somebody else is that into what you are working on. It’s such a nice feeling and him being such a nice kid is even a bigger reason that we all took so well to him.

“He’s good to be around. He makes the room brighter.”

Rob Wiemers, an assistant coach for the Tigers, organized the series, which has raised more than $40,000 and honored more than 25 individuals on theice. The series has recognized cancer survivors, those currently battling the disease and others who have lost a loved one.

Edwardsville is on the Illinois side of the river but plays opponents from the Missouri States Club Hockey Association in the series.

All proceeds remain in the St. Louis Metro area, going to Hockey Fights Cancer projects through the St. Louis Blues. The proceeds have benefittedorganizations such as Siteman Kids and the Jimmy V Foundation. 

The Blues, who have committed to the partnership again for next season, cover all expenses, meaning the money raised goes entirely to charity.

The goal of such projects is to improve the long-term prospects of those battling cancer.

In Brody’s case, however, the impact has been immediate.

“They have given him so much,” Courtney said. “If you had looked at Brody six to seven months ago, you would say, ‘This is not the same kid.’”

Courtney was pleased when Brody showed excitement about going to watch the Tigers. She thought just being at the game was enough, but it did not stop there.

When the game ended, the team invited Brody to take pictures with them and a special connection began to build.

Brody has taken up skating and had his parents buy him hockey equipment.

In March, Brody celebrated his 10th birthday with the team, joining the players on the ice in skates for the first time, taking part in a shootout, scoring on Vetter and getting to do his own celebration like those he has watched the Tigers do from his front-row seat. 

Before the month ends, he will join the Tigers on their trip to West Chester, Pa., for the Chipotle-USA Hockey High School National Championships. Edwardsville is competing in the Division 1 tournament. 

Tune into the Chipotle-USA Hockey High School Nationals Championships on March 20-24 exclusively at

“I didn’t expect any of this, much less than the impact it has made on his life,” Courtney said.

Brody is excited about traveling on the same airplane and staying in the same hotel as the older boys that he describes as his big brothers. 

For the Sedlaceks, it can now be a challenge to get Brody back into bed.

Brody not only insists on going to all the Tigers games, but he attends as many junior varsity games as he can and seeks out spring league games that various players participate in outside of the high school team.

“It does not matter if they end at 11 p.m. or if they’re an hour from home,” Courtney said. “We go to every game.”

Courtney said her and Brody recently left one game and Brody monitored another online as they drove for nearly an hour to get there for the third period.

The connection has drawn the attention of the St. Louis area. Media outlets and the Edwardsville school yearbook are sharing the story, and the Blues featured the Sedlaceks on their videoboard during their March 13 home game.

“They’re just very compassionate kiddoes who have been immensely helpful to Brody’s mental health, physical health,” Courtney said. “All around, he’s just a different kid.”

The team has been equally impressed with Brody.

Jason Walker, head coach of the Tigers, said the team appreciates Brody’s toughness and enthusiasm while going through his on-going battle.  

“He’s clearly a part of our team,” Walker said. “He’s been an inspiration. He has made our team much more aware of the bigger picture and he’s also made our group a lot more mentally tough.”

Together, they celebrate victories big and small.

When the Tigers won their league title, Brody was right there to celebrate with the team. The port in his chest that caused discomfort and made him vulnerable to infection was not a problem.

“The boys know I have this, and they make sure to protect me,” Brody told his mother.

As they celebrated, there was always someone standing next to Brody, making sure he would not fall and being certain that his chest was not bumped.

“It’s the little things like that,” Courtney said. “They are high school boys, but they think of him in everything they do.”

The team had luggage tags created for the trip and made sure to get one for Brody, who can be found at their games in a Tigers jersey or traveling in another team shirt.

“They are so thoughtful, kind, compassionate,” Courtney said. “We don’t have to ask them to do things for Brody. They take time to hang out with him when they see him.”

Courtney and coach Walker each considered it a “no-brainer” to have Brody join in the trip to Chipotle-USA Hockey High School Nationals, the first significant travel for him in a year.

“He’s a part of our team,” Walker concluded. “He’s a part of what we do. … We’ve got to have him there.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.