Last Friday morning around 10 o’clock, I looked up from my computer in the RCHS attendance office to find seniors Dylan Smith and Daniel Dotson placing a silver and black-striped gift bag on the counter.
Both smiled rather sheepishly as I inquired about their mid-morning visit to my work station, and of the contents in the bag.
As I began to pull out the lime green gift wrap paper that hid the contents of the bag, Daniel exclaimed, “All the seniors on the football team wanted you to know how much we appreciated the stories in The Herald-News and support you have given us throughout our high school careers.”
Dylan quickly added: “You’ve been with us through the good times and bad times the past four years, and this is just a token of our appreciation.”
Hearing those words, my eyes began to moisten and a slight lump formed in my throat before I had even removed all the wrapping paper.
With their watchful eyes scanning my every move, I dug deep into the bag and pulled out a Wilson collegiate football that had been autographed by the 2015 Golden Eagle seniors.
I was speechless for a few seconds – which is extremely uncommon – and when I did begin to speak I’m not really certain if my words were at all coherent. I know that I did manage to thank Daniel and Dylan for their thoughtfulness, and shared a bro hug with each of them before they ambled off toward their third period classes.
Dylan took a couple of strides toward the main office door then suddenly stopped. “Hey, T.G., don’t forget about the card that’s in that bag, too,” he grinned.
Throughout the course of the day, I did manage to personally thank as many of the senior football players as I could. I saw several in the cafeteria at lunch, and even gave a shout out to Matt (Roll Tide!) Graham in the Commons area later in the day.
Even without a parting gift from the senior members of the team, I would be hard-pressed to ever forget a group of players who had fashioned a 33-7 varsity record and consecutive state playoff semifinal appearances. If taken a step farther, their overall record at RCHS was 42-7, considering that they were 9-0 as freshmen.
Those are magical numbers and speak volumes about the 19 seniors that we say goodbye to as their schoolboy days come to an end.
A trio from that group – Gavin Downey, Noel Patterson and Tyler Pendleton – recently inked athletic scholarships to continue their football careers at the University of the Cumberlands (Ky.).
Oh, and lest I forget to mention the thank you card from the seniors. In addition to a touching message from the 2015 senior players, there was also a Buffalo Wild Wings gift card.
And I put it to good use Saturday evening at B-Dubs in Cleveland.
Thank you again, seniors!