TBT: Team Challenge ALS

By Tom Ballato

The past few years in the TBT (The Basketball Tournament) Tournament, we have seen Team Challenge ALS compete at the highest level. They came one basket away from taking down the now four time champions Overseas Elite to win the two million dollar prize. For those who don’t know what the TBT Tournament is, it is a 5 on 5 winner take all basketball tournament consisting of former college and NBA players and top overseas players.

Team Challenge ALS was created by Sean Marshall who played basketball at Boston College. While at Boston College, he roomed with Pete Frates, who was a baseball star at the college. Pete Frates was diagnosed with ALS at 27 years old and has done so much to raise awareness for this disease which includes creating the Ice Bucket Challenge with his friend Pat Quinn. He has raised millions dollars to help research and find a cure someday for ALS. Team Challenge ALS plays for Pete and all those living with ALS.

I have watched and rooted for Team Challenge ALS for the past couple of years and talked with Sean Marshall of the team to find out what they are all about.

You created and play for Team Challenge ALS because Pete Frates was your roommate at BC where you played in college. Besides him being a great athlete, could you describe Pete and your time with him in college. 

Marshall: I met Pete freshman year and we were friends throughout our four years there. He has always been someone who could change your mood in a positive way. If I was down he always found a way to turn that around and he has that affect on everyone. It doesn’t surprise met that he has done so much for ALS awareness because he’s the type of person that will accomplish what he set out to accomplish. I’m honored to play for someone so admirable.

You’ve been quoted as saying, “We play for a community”. How did you find a roster willing to sacrifice possibly earning money in the TBT Tournament for this great cause?

Marshall: Everyone that has played for our team I’ve hand selected and have a personal relationship with. That was my number one goal, was to form a team of great athletes but more importantly great character guys. Some of the guys on our team I’ve known for 15 years and it wasn’t a challenge to get them on board to represent something bigger than ourself.

What have you learned since creating this team about people living with ALS, your supporters, yourself, and others?

Marshall: The first year was an amazing journey making it all the way to the finals. Through the process we learned that the team was much bigger that just Pete. There were so many people that were connected to ALS that were supporting us and putting their hope in us. After the first year, it helped us realize that we had to involve more people in the ALS community. That’s why I came up with the idea to have different names of ALS patients on the back of our jerseys this year. The disease absolutely sucks and what I’ve learned is that these people are so strong to fight ALS. They inspire me with every story I hear. I’ll continue to put out a fighting team in their honor.

Will Team Challenge ALS return in 2019 and can we expect and roster additions?

Marshall: We are returning for 2019 TBT. We made the final 8 this year, but it was a major let down because we really felt we had a team to win it. We just didn’t click the same way we did the previous summer. At this point, we are not sure what additions we will be making, but I am sure that we will put together a team that people will be proud of.

You’ve played professionally overseas in Greece, France, Turkey, etc.. Where will you be playing this upcoming season and what do you expect to bring to the team?

Marshall: I have not signed with a team for this year yet. After sitting down with my wife, we decided that I would spend a little bit more time home this summer and signed later than I usually do. It’s a risk to pass up on jobs early, but I believe that everything works itself out the way it’s supposed to. I will sign soon when the right opportunity presents itself.

If you get a chance go follow Team Challenge ALS @TMchallengeALS and donate to the cause they play for.

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