Mother McAuley senior pitcher Holly Marousek isn’t necessarily comfortable in the spotlight. She’d rather do her thing in the pitching circle and help the Mighty Macs win.
However, she’s happy to step into the spotlight in order to raise awareness of alopecia, a disease that has greatly impacted her life.
In the fall of 2014, during her sophomore year, Marousek was diagnosed with the autoimmune skin disease that attacks hair follicles and causes the hair to fall out.
Until 2016, Marousek would wear a wig during games, but she’s gained the confidence to play without it, and at Mother McAuley’s third annual Battle to Strike Out Alopecia during Senior Night on May 17, her confidence shined.
“It’s so cool to do this game. At first, I was nervous, but now I’m better. I’ve done it before,” Marousek said with a smile. “I want to spread the message around and tell little girls ‘It will be okay.’”
During games, Marousek dons a softball cap on her smooth head, the result of alopecia.
“Of the three types, I have the most severe where every hair on my body falls out,” Marousek said. “It started off as tiny patches, and it progressed to total hair loss.”
In last year’s Battle to Strike Out Alopecia, Marousek played for the first time without wearing a wig.
Now deep into her senior season, that is the norm for Marousek. Her comfort level keeps rising as she is supported by teammates, family, friends, classmates and even opponents.
“It’s way easier now. At school, everyone knows about it,” Marousek said. “It’s easier to talk to people about it. It has been really hard to deal with, but I’m starting to come into my own and be okay with it. I want to spread that message.”
There is no known cure for alopecia.
The Mighty Macs sold T-shirts to promote the game with the proceeds going to Children With Hair Loss, an organization that provides children with wigs. Marousek said the organization has been incredibly supportive over the last two-plus years.
Squaring off with Trinity after Senior Night activities, Mother McAuley won an 11-10 slugfest in 8 innings. Seniors Katie Janiga and Karisa Mendoza and junior Kacey Powers finished with 2 hits apiece.
Junior Maddie Motola earned the win in relief of Marousek.
Hosting a Class 4A regional, Mother McAuley opened the state playoffs on May 23, after press time, against either Curie or Morton.
The Mighty Macs earned a No.-3 seed at the Hinsdale South Sectional.
“Our season has been going well,” Marousek said. “We’re rolling along, and we’ve been hitting a lot. Our defense has been solid. We want to go in with a good game plan. We want to do the little things, not make errors and work as a team toward our ultimate goal of winning state.”