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Posts Tagged ‘Carl Harris’

On Friday night (08/22/14) the families, and fans, of both the Chillicothe & Unioto High Schools got together for what was ostensibly billed as a football scrimmage.  Even though these two schools aren’t in the same conference, or even in the same division, it would not be an exaggeration to call them cross-town rivals; or to acknowledge that this rivalry isn’t always friendly.  But for this gathering, we were more of a community coming together for a common cause; and we spent our energy battling the elements instead of each other.  With thunder, lighting, and torrential rains, the organizers of this event pretty much had to throw away the script in order to keep things going, and they did manage to pack a lot into the time they had.  Money was raised for the cheerleaders, and for the football boosters, and for the ALS foundation.  There was a helicopter dropping golf balls at a target, and ice bucket challenges, and even a little bit of football.  But perhaps the most significant moment of the night occurred off of the field, in a place that most of us couldn’t see.  In a parking lot adjacent to the field, where many members of Chillicothe’s team came face to face with their fallen star, Carl Harris.

 

People from our area have likely seen it in the paper, or heard about it around town.  But since these words might reach further than that, I can tell you that Carl was to be a senior at Chillicothe High School, and until about a week ago, he was their star running back.  Those who’ve seen him play would tell you he was absolutely electric on the field.  Unfortunately, if the police reports are correct, a week earlier Carl made a very bad decision, and now he is going to have to pay a terrible price for it.  For the guys on the team, it was a shock, and I think that many were hoping to find that it was all just some sort of misunderstanding.  But coming face to face with Carl made it all too real.  The emotions that flowed out of that moment were as profound and sincere as any you’ll witness from a group of teenage boys.  Their tears weren’t for the touchdowns that Carl won’t score for the team; they were for their brother who would no longer be a part of their daily gatherings. Their tears were for the young man they looked up to, and for the realization of what has been lost.

 

While I would never attempt to defend the actions that Carl allegedly took, I can’t help but point out that he is not defined by that moment, or even by what he’s accomplished on the athletic field.  Many of his teammates described him as a “leader” and my wife, who substitutes in the school system, confirmed that Carl was someone who’d stand up for her in the classroom.  Whatever caused him to make the choices he made, there is no way to justify simply writing him off as a bad kid.  On a personal level, my prayer is that, as difficult as this season of his life will be, Carl will battle through with the same grit and endurance he always displayed on the football field.  I pray that he will find that his gifts go well beyond his athletic ability, and that maybe someday he’ll be able to help young people avoid the heartbreaking situation that he finds himself in today.  I also pray that his Chillicothe teammates don’t allow this gut-wrenching lesson to pass by them too quickly.  I suspect that there are many other young men out there who are one bad decision away from their own disaster.

 

About an hour and a half after the scrimmage finally ended, I went out to get some pizza for my family; and as I was returning home, I saw a player from the team, walking along the road in the rain.  As I gave him a ride home, he mostly sat in stunned silence.  He did tell me that his head hurt from crying for the last two hours, and we talked about how your whole life can change in the blink of an eye.  I’m not sure what he derived from that conversation, but I can’t help but think it was a conversation worth having.  We often try to get past the hard moments quickly, but if we go too fast, we fail to learn the necessary lessons.  For now, we as a community need to keep all of these young men in our prayers, most especially young Carl Harris.

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