Friday, 27 October 2017 10:11

Quinton's Legacy

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Another Mountain Bowl; Evergreen High School football vs. Conifer.  The first one I attended as a spectator in 2009, months after Quinton had transitioned.  The next year 2010 I joined the Evergreen High School football staff which is shared in our first book, Quinton’s Messages.  We had been 7 wins and 1 loss since against Conifer.  As we prepared for another battle this past Friday, October 20, 2017, it was Senior Night.  Each of the seniors was introduced one at a time by the announcer; each had written a prepared statement which was read by the announcer.  This gave me plenty of time to reflect on the fact that Quinton would also be a senior if he were here with us in the physical world.  This thought made me more than a little melancholy.

The ceremony ended and we started warming up again.  As I watched us getting ready, I ended up standing near Adam Cardillo who directed me to look at the back of one of our helmets.  I was quite taken back to see a “Q” and the word “Adversity”.  As I stared kind of dumbfounded, Adam  watched my reaction and then told me that everybody’s helmet was the same.  I walk behind a line of players looking, at each helmet and everyone was the same.

I really didn’t know what to think; I guess I was numb, shocked, surprised and humbled. I wouldn’t have even noticed if not for Adam.  Warm-ups ended and game time approached.  I told interim head coach David Leek that I was headed to the coach’s box next to the press box.  This is where I am in the games because I can see the field better and report my observations of the opponent’s defense.  Mr. Leek said, “Hold on Ernie, the boys have something for you.”  I didn’t know what was going on, but I had noticed another difference.  A few of the boys had come up to me during warm-ups and out of the blue said, “Coach, I love you.”  I found that odd, as I embraced each with a hug, but the moments were fleeting as we had a game to prepare for.

After the coin toss, the four senior captains came off the field and walked toward me.  This happened fast, but as it did, I noticed other players and coaches walking toward me.  The captains came to me together, Luc (Tank) Lajoy, Will (One-Hand) Jermano, Jack (Wags) Wagner, and Mason (Mace) Edwards.  This was happening so fast, none of it expected or known to me.  They handed me a helmet, a helmet that most of the team and coaches had signed.  A helmet with a “Q” on the back with the word “Adversity”.  Oh, how often to I teach & preach there can be and often is a silver lining to adversity.  More than that, it is through adversity that we learn, grow and evolve.

I often wonder if anybody hears me as I honor our son, Quinton Stone Jackson, by speaking the truth that he opened our eyes to.  In the context of being an assistant football coach at my alma mater, I usually share that I coach because of Quinton.  Additionally, whenever there are struggles and adversity faced by the team or by an individual on the team, I am there to do what I can to help them to see adversity through a different lens.

One by one, each captain hugged me, telling me they loved me and then other players and then the coaches.  Now I was shocked.  This was Senior night, and Quinton would be a Senior, and the team honors us in such an heartfelt way.  As this unfolded and after the game, I was told that this was the senior captain’s idea! This is what makes it even more special; these young men originated this tribute! Later I looked at the helmet closer, a number 15 was on one side; the number we associate with Quinton because he was born on December 15th. 

Kristine and I are humbled by this loving gesture by these young men the same age as Quinton.

 Q AdversityHelmet 2

 

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