Ohio State and A Local Recruiting Powerhouse Westerville South Helps Families Heal

Ohio State and A Local Recruiting Powerhouse Westerville South Helps Families Heal

BuckeyeWire

Ohio State and A Local Recruiting Powerhouse Westerville South Helps Families Heal


Life is bigger than sport, but there are rare occasions when sport and life coexist to heal and unite. One such occasion occurred in Westerville, Ohio just recently.


Contact/Follow Nicholas Gialdini

Have you ever thought how football can impact communities for the greater good? Westerville is just a community, tucked in the Northeast corner of the Columbus metro area, but its impact can be felt across the country. 

Westerville South has been an athlete recruiting powerhouse for the Ohio State University. One of three schools in perhaps the most well-known suburb of Columbus, it has produced the likes of Andy Katzenmoyer (All-American at Ohio State and first round NFL Draft pick), recent four-star football recruits Jaelen Gill and Marcus Williamson, and current basketball players Andre and Caleb Wesson. Westerville, Ohio has always had a strong relationship with Ohio State due to its ability to cultivate and keep talent locally. 

But as I said, some things go beyond sports.

 It was Thursday October 18, 2018, and another high school football game was taking place in the great football state of Ohio. A rivalry matchup of Westerville South versus Westerville Central. Many might think this was just a regular game between two high school teams.

Just another football game of two teams, with eleven guys on the field, banging heads like gladiators and two high school communities in the small town America cheering aimlessly. To me, and to the great community of Westerville, this night was so much more than just a game, and I was able to witness it firsthand.

To fully understand, we have to go back a bit.

On February 10, 2018, Westerville Police Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering responded to a domestic dispute and were tragically shot and killed at the scene from which they received the call. These two men died risking their lives daily for the greater good of the community. Their story would draw national headlines, and the support of the Westerville community was overwhelming.

Blue ribbons, blue lights, and even pictures were hung in the city for support of the two brave men. Even in the overwhelming, heart-filled support of the community, there still remained the two men’s families, heartbroken and saddened by the most difficult and profound loss anyone can try to endure.

The community of Westerville did all it could to support the two families, and the local college, Otterbein University, even offered free tuition to the kids who were left behind by the death of the their father. After all, we often forget that police officers are just public servants, but husbands, friends, and fathers themselves.

While the heartbreak and sadness will always remain, it’s still a noble and honorable gesture for those to rally around others’ struggles. And that’s just what happened on October 18, 2018. That day, Westerville South High School unveiled a new “Victory Bell”. The school invited the two widows of the two brave men and gave them the honor of being a part of the dedication.

A plaque on the bell contains the names of the two men and a speech titled, “They Went In,” which describes the two men risking their lives for the good of the community. A moment of silence was given as Irish Bagpipes were played. Both teams joined together in prayer as well as all of those in attendance.

As tears streamed down the faces of many, there was a feeling of unity, a feeling of peace, and a community attempting to heal together. All of this was brought together by a football game played between two rival schools in a small community. One community.

Couldn’t we all use some of that in today’s day and age of discord?

Even great colleges and business partnered to give back to the family of the fallen officers. Bob Evans, a national restaurant chain, headquartered just a few miles down the road, partnered with Ohio State this past spring game to give back to the fallen officers’ family. It gave $1 for every ticket sold.

Like I said, sometimes sports can help us get back a little of something that was lost. It helps people heal after a time of suffering, it can provide a little peace, and it can even give us a sense of what it means to be a true community. 

Long live sport, and long live community.

 

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