Mariemont Coach, Former North Carolina Captain Graham Harden Dies at 52

Graham Harden, a captain of the unbeaten 1991 NCAA champion University of North Carolina men’s team and William F. Schmeisser Award winner as the Division I Outstanding Defenseman of the Year who kept coaching the Mariemont girls — and the school’s boys’ team, too — after being diagnosed in August 2016 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or ALS), died Saturday at his home in Terrace Park, Ohio. He was 52.

He was a multi-sport athlete at New Canaan (Conn.) and Deerfield Academy and an All-American at UNC. He helped the team to a historic 16-0 campaign in 1991.

Graham tackled ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, with the spirit of a competitor. He and his supporters established a movement called the GForce Initiative to build awareness and spark progress in developing treatments for this currently incurable disease. His motto became “Game on, ALS.”

“Everyone cares deeply about Graham, particularly in the lacrosse community,” said Shea Harden, his sister and spokesperson for GForce, in a 2018 story written by Justin Feil. “In the Mariemont community and lacrosse communities that support Mariemont, it’s heartwarming to see them reaching out for Graham. Sometimes we initiate it, and sometimes they do. We’re reluctant to over-fundraise there because everyone is so generous and kind.”

The Mariemont girls captured a state championship in 2018 with Harden as coach, all while he battled ALS and patrolled the sidelines with cane.

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