Mt. Pleasant softball team honors late State Rep. Mike Reese by wearing his number

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021 | 7:59 PM


You could not tell the players apart by their roster numbers, but you could tell they were playing collectively for a common purpose.

Everyone wore No. 12 for the Mt. Pleasant softball team on a sunny Wednesday afternoon when the Lady Vikings hosted Laurel Highlands for a scrimmage. The team honored the memory of Mt. Pleasant alum and late state Rep. Mike Reese by wearing T-shirts with his old number 12 on the front and back.

The big red “12” stood out on the royal blue shirts.

“We wanted to pay tribute to Mike and his family,” said Mt. Pleasant assistant softball coach Aaron Hutter, who grew up with Reese and played football with him around the mid 1990s. “I gave Mike my number, 12, when we played. He was a sophomore when I was a senior.”

Reese died in January from an apparent brain aneurysm. He was 42. He had contracted covid-19 in December and had quarantined.

In November, he was elected to a seventh term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Reese’s daughter, Addison, is a freshman on the team. She wears No. 12.

“We really appreciate it,” she said of the shirts. “It is really sweet for them to do that, and it shows how much everyone cares. He would have loved it. He wanted to be in the spotlight.”

Addison had a couple of hits late in the game.

Hutter said Mike Predajna, a local state trooper and another alum, donated the shirts to the school’s softball and wrestling teams.

“The last time I saw him was through a door at my house,” Hutter said. “He and his brother put in my sidewalk.

“Mike did so much behind the scenes. He gave a $10,000 grant to our baseball program. He would love us (wearing the shirts) because he could tell people he was a Division I football player and I was D-II.”

Hutter said Reese was big on teaching the value of youth sports to budding athletes but also what follows.

“That was Mike’s thing,” he said. “When we were young, we were mischievous. But we figured it out. As a coach, I have tried to take some of the girls out of their comfort zones to show them they can do so much more.”

Mt. Pleasant head softball coach and athletic director Chris Brunson said Reese is missed every day.

“If you knew Mike 10 minutes or 10 years, he treated you the same,” Brunson said. “He was a huge advocate for youth sports and life lessons. He was always accessible. You’d never know he was part of the 59th District.”

The passing on of No. 12 will continue at Mt. Pleasant.

Hutter’s son, Jackson, plans to give his 12 to Reese’s son, Mike, who is a seventh grader, when the pair becomes football teammates.

“Maybe after that, we pack it away for good,” Aaron Hutter said. “It’s probably time.”

Hutter said the school is talking about other ways to honor Reese throughout the sports year.

An online petition aimed at naming Pennsylvania State Route 981 after Reese appears to be gaining steam. It is not affiliated with the high school.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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