Memorial Dedications- Honoring the Athletes We've Lost

  • Donna Benson

    “It definitely has been a fun-filled life! Because of a brain injury, Wendy getting me involved with basketball, meeting so many people with MS because of my brain injury, and cancer getting me involved with Team Survivor.”

    Born July 17, 1941 in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Donna joined the Navy in 1959 and was sent to her first Duty Station – San Diego, with its Dairy Farm in Mission Valley, buffalo in Hazard Center, tiny airport on Pacific Highway, and a ferry with free popcorn going across to Coronado. She started working for the Federal Civil Service, playing basketball and softball, and running 5K and 10K races. She joined the Naval Reserve in August 1970 and retired in 2001 from Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center (NMCRC) San Diego. She assisted and then coached the NTC Women’s Softball Team until the base closed. Between 1999 and 2001, she underwent surgeries for a benign brain tumor and colon cancer. Meeting another woman at Sharp Healthcare’s Community Re-Entry Program is what got her started playing Senior Women’s Basketball at the YMCA on Sunday afternoons. Since Wendy O’Donnell would never be able to play basketball – a game she dearly loved – she made Donna promise to play for her, even though Donna had to deal with some serious balance problems at first. Donna played in senior women’s basketball games and went to Senior Nationals in St. Louis, Stanford, Houston, Minneapolis, and Birmingham. Then, because of having cancer, Donna met a beautiful, awesome, and inspirational group of women survivors with San Diego Team Survivor Sea Dragons – a dragon boat crew, who love paddling around Fiesta Island, our beautiful Mission Bay.

    Donna passed away on May 16, 2020 just before ship bells chimed 0800. Team Survivor Dragon Boat crew-mate, Kelly, was by her side. She visualized Donna through a fast bike ride down the coast, then had Donna board the boat and take some bow jumps before sunrise. Kelly also promoted Donna to a Four-Star Admiral before her last breath.

    (Thank you to Kirsten Cummings for the Memorial Dedication.)

  • Michael LaRoche

    Michael William LaRoche, passed away in July, 2020. Michael played in the San Diego senior games for 15 years. Michael won championships in every age group starting from the 50’s and ending in the 60’s. Michael played with California Gold and Oakland’s Finest and was an unbelievable scorer and shooter. Michael won several national tournaments and numerous World tournaments playing in Prague, Sydney, Edmonton and in the United States.

    Michael attended Cal Poly SLO where he led the team in scoring averaging over 22 points per game for his career. Michael played professionally briefly for the Los Angeles Stars before he began his successful career as one of the highly regarded Workers Compensation attorneys in Northern California. Michael will be remembered for his aggressive competitiveness and enormous love for his family and friends. Michael and Roy McNeely were teammates and Oakland’s Finest will sorely miss them when the ball starts to bounce again.

    (Thank you to Robert Scotlan for the Memorial Dedication.)

  • Roy McNeely

    Roy was a basketball enthusiast. Roy traveled from Detroit, Michigan and Pflugerville, Texas to play basketball wherever a game was being played. Roy played for many years in the San Diego senior games and won numerous tournaments playing with Oakland’s Finest. Roy loved San Diego basketball.

    Roy passed away in February, 2020. Roy attended Eastern Michigan University where he led the team in scoring and rebounding. Roy also won many national and world championships all over the world. Roy was such a popular player and friend that people always thought he was running for office because so many individuals would surround him just to say hello and shake his hand. Roy will be missed dearly. He was a great friend and teammate.

    (Thank you to Robert Scotlan for the Memorial Dedication.)