As we know locally with Chardon, national tragedy like Uvalde leaves lasting mark on a community

For a few fleeting moments May 25 on Day 1 of the Division I Austintown-Fitch Regional, track and field was irrelevant.

Those assembled at Fitch stood stoically across the facility and observed a moment of silence for yet another national tragedy.

The day prior, in a senseless act of violence, 19 elementary school-age children and two teachers were killed by a gunman in Uvalde, Texas.

Just like after Columbine.

Just like after Sandy Hook.

Just like after Marjorie Stoneman Douglas.

And yes, for all of us in this part of the world, just like after Chardon.

We stood heartbroken, feeling almost helpless in the pursuit of aiding those directly affected who were devastated and seeking comfort that in many ways could possibly never arrive.

Personally, I’ll never forget the night after the Chardon tragedy in 2012, standing at a Kent District hockey semifinal between Gilmour and Walsh Jesuit, observing a moment of silence in the same manner and welling up for one of our beloved communities.

If any of us around here learned a lesson after Chardon, it was the lasting impact that extent of tragedy can have on a community.

When the national cable and broadcast news outlets took their reporters, crews and trucks and left that Chardon Middle School parking lot a day or two later, Chardon was still there. That revered part of our broader community’s fabric was left to pick up the pieces.

Athletically – and elsewhere of course – we know the resolve of the student-athletes who frequent that school.

With the Hilltoppers’ reigning two-time Division III state champion football program, for example, when the weather turns bad – the snow cascades or the rain pelts down – Chardon is immediately at the forefront of the mind as a team that will persevere.

We know, when their track and field student-athletes compete at state this weekend, they won’t yield an inch in pursuit of their aspirations.

Yet, even more than a decade removed now, we also know one profound and heavy truth: There will be those across the country who, when they hear the word “Chardon,” inevitably they only know about that tragic February day.

It is with that in mind that I would like to take time in this space this week after the unspeakable scene at Robb Elementary School to try to spotlight something positive for that grieving community.

Albeit thousands of miles away, I want to use my platform – much like we wanted to for Chardon – to tell you about the young people of Uvalde, Texas, in a way, and share some highlights of their year in high school sports.

That small town is home to Uvalde High School, with a student body of around 900 about 80 miles west of San Antonio. Their boys teams are the Coyotes, and the girls teams are the Lobos.

Last month, Uvalde competed in Texas’ Class 4A, Region 4 track and field meet. Kasidy Hernandez was sixth in girls 300-meter hurdles with a time of 48.52 seconds, and fellow junior Jayden Gonzales was seventh in both sprint finals, with a 23.30 in 200 and an 11.34 in 100.

The baseball team competed in the Class 4A Regions 2 and 4 tournament with a pair of losses to Pleasanton and finished its campaign 12-15. Junior Damian Rivera led the Coyotes with a .343 batting average, according to MaxPreps. Senior Malachi Velasquez led the team with 19 runs scored and 12 steals, and sophomore Christopher Mata logged a team-high 15 RBI.

The golf team was seventh in their regional tournament with a two-day score of 711.

In girls soccer, a winter sport in Texas, the Lobos went 18-3-2, the best record in program history, including 14-0 in district play. They came from behind to prevail in their tournament opener over Gonzales, 2-1, before falling to Boerne. Abigail Kone was named as her district’s most valuable player, and Addison Pendleton was named as the top district goalkeeper.

In the winter, the boys basketball team won its postseason opener in the Class 4A tournament, defeating Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering, 66-54, with highlights on Hudl, before falling to eventual regional semifinalist King, 61-45.

Wrestler Dom Quiroz advanced to the Class 5A state tournament at 152 pounds, going 31-1 heading into state and winning his regional tournament in his weight class. He placed fourth, advancing to the championship semifinals, rebounding for a consolation semi win by pin in 1:25 before dropping a 6-4 decision in his third-place match to end his senior season 34-3.

In the fall, a young Coyotes football team finished 2-8, the top highlight coming in a 24-20 victory over Zapata. Isaias Cordova recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter, setting up an Eli Barboza one-yard TD sneak for the eventual winning score.

“It was good to be able to come home with a win,” Uvalde coach Wade Miller told the Uvalde Leader-News postgame. “It was a long road trip to and from Zapata. It made the trip back a lot more enjoyable. “

May 1 during a season-ending banquet, Kone and Quiroz were respectively named as the school’s female and male student-athletes of the year.

Especially with those of you who lean cynical, undoubtedly you are thinking, “How does a national tragedy at an elementary school have anything to do with high school sports?”

Because the student-athletes who carry that community banner now and going forward are not just going to be from Uvalde. They’re going to be from the community where a national tragedy occurred, and they deserve all the support and positivity they can get.

And because similar to Sandy Hook, many of those beautiful children who perished could have been the future of high school sports in their community.

According to CNN, Makenna Elrod loved to play softball and competed in gymnastics. Ellie Garcia was a cheerleader and is pictured in CNN’s tribute page of her in her Tree City Youth Basketball League uniform. Uziyah Garcia picked up a quick love of football running patterns while playing catch with his grandfather di lei. Lexi Rubio loved basketball and softball and was also pictured holding a trophy in her Tree City Youth Basketball League jersey.

“She was kind, sweet, and appreciated life,” Rubio’s parents told CNN. “Lei She was going to be an all-star in softball and lei had a bright future, whether it’s sports or academic. Please let the world know we miss our baby. “

Her father, a sheriff’s deputy, heartbreakingly added to a CNN reporter: “All I can hope is that she’s just not a number.”

I know do we.

We have a community that knows that anguish far too well. We know how we all felt witnessing them experiencing it and trying to assist them in finding some slight peace of mind in their moment of need.

We grieve in every corner of this country for Uvalde – and in an athletic sense, we are all Coyotes and Lobos fans for the duration as they attempt to heal.

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