Wednesdays with Will

Five-year-old Will Nordeen passes fighting spirit along to UW-La Crosse wrestlers

Five-year-old Will Nordeen fits right in with a room full of fighters. He finished his fifth round of chemotherapy for Burkitts Lymphoma in Mid-October, and ever since, he’s traded his afternoons in a hospital bed for afternoons on a college wrestling mat.

“We were contacted by a company called Team impact,” said UW-La Crosse Head Wrestling Coach Dave Malecek.  “They said there is a young man here in La Crosse that had a situation where they get him paired up with a college athletic team. To give him an opportunity to be a part of something special.”

“Team Impact matched Will up with the wrestling team,” said Julie Nordeen. “They said how do you feel about wrestling? We thought for Will that is an absolute perfect sport! And then you meet coach Malecek once, and you are like wow!”

The result of the agreement made Will the youngest Eagle in program history. “Wednesday’s with Will” has followed ever since. For everyone involved it’s the best day of the week.

“For them to take us in as part of their family has been fantastic,” said Derek Nordeen. “Coach Malecek invited us and the entire team to his house for a Christmas dinner. To spend a lot of time with them outside has been wonderful.”

“You can see it in our guys faces…when he is here every Wednesday we look forward to it,” said Malecek. “We want him here on Wednesday because it is kind of that middle of the week. They are starting to feel a little tired, or fatigued from all the workouts we have been doing. And that lights them up. You can see it when he walks in the room, they are like different kids.”

“Our goal is to be a role model, and to help him fight through this battle, that none of us can even conceive about fighting,” said UW-La Crosse senior Chase Stiener. “I remember my second match of the year, Will was in attendance and he was able to watch me. I remember looking up and seeing him, and just remember seeing him excited and yelling. And going if that kid can fight through what he has fought through already. I can get through another two minutes of wrestling. Low and behold, with Will behind me I was able to pull out a win. He is a special kid.”

And for Team Nordeen, this Eagle’s season is about much more than the wins and the losses on the wrestling mat.

“They have taken us as a family away from living in fear of dying to getting back to really living,” said Julie Nordeen. “It is the absolute anti-cancer. You can not help but want to be a part of it. We are so lucky. And we are so lucky to have it. Thank you Coach. This means the world to our family.”

“I like Hanging out with Coach Malecek and his school,” said Will.

“Give me a big hug,” said Malecek. “That’s my man.”

Will is currently in remission.

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