Tragic night puts sports in perspective
WINSTED - Last week I wrote about some local teams facing adversity and responding in a positive way. They were teams that had not had much success of late finding a way to win, teams coming off lackluster seasons and turning things around and teams overcoming some internal distractions on their way to crucial wins.
I have to tell you, none of it means much compared to what the Gilbert/Northwestern Football team and the GN community went through Friday night.
I'm sure you have heard by now that a Region 7 student attempted suicide on the Gilbert School grounds on Friday night during GN's 35-0 victory over SMSA. I was there covering the game and the events that went from unusual to strange to absolutely scary.
It should have been a story about John Lippincott accounting for five touchdowns and GN setting up a big game with Avon. Instead that was all barely a footnote.
I'm not even 100 percent sure what I want to say right now. I just feel like I want to write about that night and what happened, what it might mean going forward.
My 10-year-old son was with me and the events unnerved him, they did the same to me.
What started out as a strange delay, a Lifestar helicopter needed a place to land, got stranger and scarier and sadder as the moments passed. I took a lap around the parking lot and saw some concerned faces. A second lap and there were some teary-eyed kids. By the third lap hugs, crying and looks of disbelief were on more and more faces.
It turned out that a young kid, barely older than my son, tried to take his own life. According to someone that was on the scene, they might have been successful if not for some luck and quick thinking.
A group of kids came across the scene and ran for help, luckily coming across some adults leaving the game early. One man lifted the student and heard breathing and another aided in bringing them down to safety.
A few days have passed, and while I doubt things are back to normal for anyone in the Region 7/Gilbert community, at least the student is getting better day by day. Alert, breathing on their own, talking.
It looks like the student will make it through this, but hopefully it will only be the start of things.
There has been an outpouring of support for the student and for the community, which is great. I just feel like we need to be there for each other before a tragedy strikes, before we have to have a reminder of how fragile life is and how fleeting our time here Let's be better to each other, we are all here together and for lack of a better word, right now we are all on the same team.
Personally, I've treated the events as a way to talk to my son about issues that are coming his way. He's just a fifth grader, but there is no denying he is growing up, not a baby anymore. He was relieved as the updates about the student came in and were positive, he was confused as to why someone so young would do something so tragic. Hopefully he was relieved at the reassurances that his mom and dad will always be there for him.
Among the many things I was reminded of after Friday's events unfolded was how lucky I am to do what I do and how lucky everyone involved in sports, both local and beyond, is to be a part of something that can be so great.
I truly enjoy talking shop with coaches, learning the ins and outs of the teams I see, not only in X's and O's, but behind the scenes, the psychology if you will, of putting a team and keeping a team together. Sports can be hard.
I was talking to Housatonic/Wamogo football coach Deron Bayer recently and he said to me that football is an unforgiving teacher and the lessons are hard. He was right, but he could have been talking about almost any sport.
Sports can be hard, but at the end of the day, just about anyone who is involved is better for the experience. I am not sure what the lessons are that people will take from Friday night but I hope the sense of community and support for one another remains long after this terrible experience is over.
Friday night was one of the strangest nights of my career as a writer. I've been doing it for over 15 years and have never been around an event so tragic. I hope that I never come close again.