Last night, Mt. St. Mary’s got blown out by North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA tournament. To reach this game, they had to overcome a scrappy Coppin State team in the “opening round,” if you’d like to call it that, on Wednesday evening.
It was great to see all of the Baltimore teams in the Big Dance this year, but it was even better to see how the city was brought together by their bids. Regardless of how they fared in the tournament, it was refreshing to see people donning UMBC and Mt. St. Mary’s t-shirts at the grocery store. But on Wednesday night, basketball was not the only thing on the minds of the Mounties.
Dustin Bauer, an accomplished track runner and a fellow Calvert Hall graduate (Class of ’04), tragically passed away this week due to complications from a head injury after a fall during a party at Mt. St. Mary’s College.
Dustin was a good friend of Mountie senior guard Chris Vann, and evidence of his presence was undeniable during the opening round game vs. Coppin State. Fans held up signs and wore arm bands in honor of Dustin. The current Facebook group, titled “Pray for Dustin Bauer,” is quickly approaching 1,500 members, which is a true testament to how many lives he touched.
Dustin was also a childhood friend of mine; we played rec league soccer and lacrosse at Loch Raven Rec Council. We also graduated together from Calvert Hall in 2004. He epitomized what it meant to be LaSallian. St. John Baptist de LaSalle, founder of the worldwide brotherhood of the Institute of the Brothers of Christian Schools, would be proud of how Dustin lived his life. He was a caring, loving, kind person who could deflect social stress like Patrick Roy denies goals (or like Bruce Bowen defends two-guards if you aren’t familiar with hockey). He never let petty things get to him, and we can all take a lesson from Dustin in how he lived his life; work hard, love one another, respect each other, and don’t let extraneous bull crap affect your quality of life.
At Dustin’s wake, I saw people from all walks of life in the Baltimore area. I ran into other competitors that I faced in high school, whether it be during a water polo game, a swim meet or a lacrosse game. I saw people from Archbishop Spalding, Mt. St. Joe’s (our OTHER rival), and Towson High School. I, of course, also ran into many of my fellow Calvert Hall graduates from the Class of ’04, whom I haven’t seen since I graduated.
It really drove home the fact that, as much as we hate to admit it sometimes, Baltimore is a small town. It’s a small town with great values and it connects people in a way that nothing else could; not a fraternity or sorority, not an elk club or a country club. It’s the only place on earth that when you’re asked where you went to school, you say “Calvert Hall” over “Washington College” or you say “Loyola Blakefield” over “University of Maryland.”
Many people seem to know about Dustin’s tragic death, as it was mentioned by ESPN commentator Erin Andrews during the opening round game on national television, but few have been privileged enough to personally know Dustin and the entire Bauer family. Their strength throughout this ordeal, especially Dustin’s parents and brother, DeWitt Jr., has been uncanny. If all of us can take a page out of their book, we would all be better people. Thankfully, Dustin was able to donate many of his organs to those in need.
Dustin’s untimely death, along with the strong conglomerate of Baltimore teams in the tournament this year, really brought the town together.