It is something we, as teenagers, never ponder. It never crosses our mind, and is rarely brought to our attention. We think we are invincible and that we will live forever. That is, until it happens to someone. Someone we can relate to. They walk through hallways like we do. They go to classes like we do. And for some, they step out into the athletic realm like we do. It is only when it happens to those among the high school world, that it impacts “us” all. “It,” in this sense, is death.
On August 10, 2016, the unimaginable happened to the River Bluff High School football team. They lost one of their own. Two weeks later, on August 26, they would play Lugoff-Elgin High School—my high school.
This being a home game for us, the atmosphere started out the same as any other game. Both teams warmed up as normal. As we watched River Bluff warm-up, I recall how much bigger their players were than ours. Despite the size difference, they were teenage boys—all the same age as my peers and I, yet they had suffered something so unexpected and tragic.
About half-way through warming up, I noticed something different in the middle of the field. It was foreign to me and all of the others in the crowd -- a huge number 90 written for all to see. This was the number of their fallen player.
Boys from both teams headed for the locker-rooms shortly after warm-ups—the injured ones lagged behind. It was not until the teams came back out that everything really began to change.
Usually in a football game, coming out of the locker room is when the team and crowd begin to get hyped up. Each team is dismissed from the locker room at separate times to insure there are no altercations. The Demons normally run through the banner as the band plays our fight song while the cheerleaders, paint crew and fans goes wild. But this time, it was different.
As I went to snap a photo of my friends on the team, I noticed they were not running out. There was no music, no cheering, no noise. In fact, you could have heard a pin drop. Instead, the teams linked arms. The red, the white, and the blue—the Demons—all joined with the white, the gold, and the green—the Gators. I then noticed that our captains each wore a different color Lugoff-Elgin jersey—one red, one white, and one navy— all were representing and remembering the number 90.
The two teams locked arms, and proceeded to walk out towards mid field where they surrounded the number 90, arm in arm. We all then joined with them in a moment of silence. Following this solemn moment, the teams embraced and high-fived each other. In that moment, the atmosphere was no longer about football. It was about life.
The Demons went on to win that game. It was the first win of the season, and a big one at that. However, that night winning was not what mattered. What mattered was that two different teams and their fan bases came together to honor a fellow, fallen player. We were able to separate our differences and form a bond to remember that football is not all that matters in life. Life is not about the things we do, but it is about the people in it and how we choose to live it every, single day. It is about the moments that shape us into unique individuals. Life is so delicate and precious. Sometimes, we all just need to stop and remember that.
I have been a fan of football my entire life, but I have never seen or felt anything like what happened that night. That game, may go down to be one of my fondest memories of my high school career.
Emily Seay is a junior at Lugoff-Elgin High School.