Totino-Grace community mourns the loss of 23-year-old Sasha McHale
Instrumental athlete gone but not forgotten
BY Ryan Schleicher – SUN NEWSPAPERS
Heavy hearts walk the halls of Totino-Grace High School this week, as one of their standout female students and basketball stars has passed away.
Alexandra “Sasha” McHale, daughter of former basketball star and current head coach of the Houston Rockets Kevin McHale, lost her battle this past weekend with lupus. Sasha McHale was a standout athlete during her days at Totino-Grace particularly in basketball where she led the team in field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, and blocked shots.
An excellent student coupled with athletic ability, McHale was the complete package. She was the leader of Totino-Grace girls basketball because she had the ability to bring everyone together.
“She was the glue that held all the ranging classes a varsity holds together, from the freshmen to the seniors, she was close with everyone,” said Shannon Hartinger, McHale’s former basketball coach.
“She never enjoyed the spotlight or wanted it, she was the most humble, down-to-earth player I’ve ever coached.” 2008 was McHale’s senior year and it could not have been more magical as the girls claimed the state championship that season.
McHale racked up quite the list of achievements while playing for Totino-Grace, she was an All Conference player while being on the state championship team, she also captured two conference titles and two section titles during her days at Totino-Grace.
McHale was attending the University of Minnesota Duluth when she was diagnosed last year. No one, including her closest friends, knew how severe of an illness McHale had.
“We were all in shock as we didn’t know her condition was life-threatening,” said Hartinger.
According to the National Lupus Foundation, lupus is auto immune, meaning the body cannot distinguish between the invading of the disease and the body’s healthy tissues.
Kevin McHale had been on a leave of absence from coaching since Nov. 10 to be with his daughter at home in North Oaks as her health declined. Everyone who is associated with the McHale family in some way, shape, or form is being grasped by this devastation.
A school-wide prayer in McHale’s honor began this week for Totino-Grace students as news was officially announced to the student body.
McHale had an influence on everyone who came to know her, either directly or indirectly. Totino-Grace begins its basketball season on Nov. 27 in which McHale will be honored with a moment of silence. The following week, the game will also be played in her honor in which all proceeds from concessions and half-time revenue going to the lupus foundation, everyone is encouraged to attend.
McHale will always be remembered for her energetic, perky chuckle that seemed to keep the mood light inside the locker room. She always put the team ahead of herself, a very instrumental characteristic of a team leader.
She also knew how to make sure the team knew who she was. Recalling a story from former coach Hartinger, McHale “sat with her back against a wall watching (as) some girls were goofing off shooting half court shots,” according to Hartinger, “each tried like five times” but then,” she (McHale) got up, asked for a ball, walked to half court and effortlessly swished her first half court attempt.” Hartinger said. “It was hilarious” as, “she walked away like, what?”
McHale was pursuing a degree in liberal arts until her life was shortened all-to-soon — she was 23 years old.
Family and friends gathered Wednesday, Nov. 28, at St. Odila Catholic Church in Shoreview for services and Mass of the Christian Burial.