At last week’s home game against Oroville, the Liberty Bell High School girls’ basketball team broke from their sideline huddles with a different shout from their usual “Go Lions.”
Instead, they chanted “For Daniel” as they headed back to the floor.
The tribute was for Daniel Ochoa, a familiar and beloved figure in the Liberty Bell athletic community. Ochoa was at a hospital in Wenatchee, recovering from surgery after a serious medical event that he suffered while refereeing a basketball game on Feb. 2. Players for both Liberty Bell and Oroville wore red socks to honor Ochoa, and the two teams gathered at center court after the game.
Ochoa was still in the hospital early this week while he continues to recover.
Ochoa and his wife, Angie — who is the administrator at Jamie’s Place in Winthrop — are the parents of Liberty Bell junior Tommie Ochoa and 2018 Liberty Bell graduate Lauren Ochoa, both talented multi-sport athletes.
Tommie has been a starter on the Lady Lions’ basketball squad since she was a freshman, but she missed last week’s Oroville game as the Ochoa family gathered around Daniel in Wenatchee. Lauren came from Montana, where she is attending college, and Daniel’s parents journeyed from Mexico to be by his side.
Daniel Ochoa attends all his daughters’ athletic events and is a supportive friend, mentor and coach for their teammates. His ready smile and outgoing personality have endeared him to many. And he’s proud of his girls. He often wears a sweatshirt with the inscription “Ochoa’s Dad” on the back.
A fundraising campaign to help the Ochoa family with medical and other expenses started almost immediately after Daniel was hospitalized. By the night of the Oroville game (Feb. 5), a silent auction of baked goods had been organized and filled several tables in the foyer outside the gym. Pies were going for $50 or more. A big get-well card filled up with best wishes.
A GoFundMe campaign was also set up, and had nearly raised all of its $10,000 goal by early this week, with more than 100 individual donations. More supportive comments can be found at the GoFundMe site.
Meanwhile, the Lady Lions, who have had an impressive season that included a tie for second place in league play, moved on to the district tournament at Hanford last weekend, where they defeated DeSales, 46-44.
The leading scorer for Liberty Bell? Tommie Ochoa, who scored a season-high 20 points including six three-pointers.