Members of the Clawson High School volleyball team unveil the Alex Verner Court on Sept. 14.

Members of the Clawson High School volleyball team unveil the Alex Verner Court on Sept. 14.

Photos by Donna Dalziel

Clawson High names gymnasium court to honor Alex Verner

By: Mike Koury | Royal Oak Review | Published September 18, 2023


CLAWSON — The court in the Clawson High School gymnasium will be forever adorned with the name of Alexandria Verner.

On Sept. 14, before the high school volleyball team’s game against L’Anse Creuse High School, members of the Clawson Public Schools community and Clawson residents gathered in the new gym at the school for the unveiling of the new floor, which was christened “Alex Verner Court.”

Verner was one of three people who died in a shooting on the Michigan State University campus Feb. 13. Before attending MSU, Verner attended Clawson High, where she played volleyball and basketball on the same court that will carry her name and number, 24.

Verner’s father, Ted Verner, told C & G Newspapers that naming the court in honor of Alex means the world to him, wife Nancy, son TJ and daughter Charlotte.

“I graduated from Clawson High in ’83. All my kids have been through here. My mom and dad, if my dad saw this ‘Verner’ on the court, he would be blown away. To see this legacy of our family and my daughter Alex be on this court, it’s humbling; it is an honor and it’s something that I can’t express in words,” he said.

The unveiling of the court came almost exactly seven months after the shooting at MSU. Ted Verner said it’s hard to put into words what he and his family have been through in that time, but he knows he has his family’s love and support, as well as the support of the Clawson community.

“I’m blessed to have that, but my family struggles every day. You can’t put it in words. When you wake up, it’s hard to get out of bed. When I drive to work, I cry every single day. When I come home, I try to be strong for my family,” he said. “As a family in the last seven months … every day we get incrementally a little bit better. It’s all we can do.”

Along with the unveiling, members of the volleyball team wore shirts with Verner’s name and number. Green and white shirts that said “MSU Strong in Clawson” were sold at the event, with proceeds benefiting the Alex Verner Scholarship program.

Ted Verner along with Clawson Public Schools Superintendent Billy Shellenbarger and Athletic Director Kelly Horne, who is also the high school’s assistant principal and Verner’s former basketball coach, spoke to those in attendance about Verner and what she meant to the school and community.

Shellenbarger told C & G Newspapers that Verner probably spent thousands of hours in that gym, and Shellenbarger felt the court naming was a respectful way to honor her life.

“You know, 50 years from now, this court will be there and will be named ‘Alex Verner Court,’ and what I love about that is people are going to ask, ‘Who’s Alex Verner? And why was this court named after her?’ And it allows us to continue to tell her story,” he said. “That’s the goal, you know, with myself and (Horne), who are spearheading this, we’re very close to her and that family and to be able to — ideally every day, but certainly as much as we can — continue to tell Alex’s story and the positive pieces to that story that impacted me and so many others in our school and our community. So this allows for just that.

“This is bigger than us,” he continued. “This is bigger than what happened. This is about her life and all the great things that she did. And when people ask questions, we’ll be able to answer them and tell that story which, for me, that truly warms my heart.”

When speaking to the crowd before the unveiling, Ted Verner took the opportunity to do what he felt he hasn’t been able to do over the last several months and thanked everyone for their love and support.

“As I walk around, I’ve gained so much strength. I’m amazed, seven months later, there’s so many signs on lawns, there’s so many supporters. It gives me strength every day when I walk through, when I drive home, and to see those signs,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of opportunity to thank each and every one of you, because I just can’t do it. So I want today to take this opportunity to thank the city, the town of Clawson, my friends and family.”