Games resume after national tragedy
Minutes before the Tonganoxie-Pembroke Hill football game Friday night, people attending joined hands for a moment of silence in honor of people killed in New York City and Washington, D.C.
That's when it struck Tonganoxie High School football coach Mark Elston. Holding Elston's left hand was Lucas Frantz. The senior was at boot camp this summer in Georgia.
"It didn't really hit home until the moment of silence," Elston said. "The kid I'm holding hands with might be defending our country if things escalate. We hope and pray it doesn't come to that.
"At that point I got a little choked up."
Although major college athletics were canceled through the weekend, high school teams had the option of playing. Tonganoxie soccer and volleyball games were postponed on Sept. 11, but schedules resumed after that.
Athletics director John Lee said postponing more games was discussed, but administrators and coaches decided to carry on.
"We had talked about it all week," Lee said. "We thought it would keep people's minds off the events and would not be in poor taste."
The only sport closest to cancellation after Sept. 11 was cross country. Because Kansas University was host to the Jayhawk Invitational on Saturday at Rim Rock Farm near Lawrence, the event was canceled along with all other Division-1 events around the country. Free State then became the host and a scaled-down version was available for high schools.
The Revised Lawrence Invitational also included a moment of silence.
Cross country coach Phil Williams said he understood KU's decision, but was glad his team could compete.
"We had talked a lot about it," Williams said, referring to the national tragedy. "Running was kind of an escape."
Athletics seemed to be a release for the volleyball team as well. The Chieftains were scheduled to play at De Soto on Sept. 11, but cancellation has left them with a big gap between matches.
"That day it happened we talked about how fragile life is and to enjoy it," said Tiffany Parker, THS volleyball coach. "We had a lot of energy in practice that day."
As the team moves on to its next competition, Parker said the nation should try to put things back in order.
"I think we should follow the president's lead and get things back to normal, whatever normal is," Parker said.
The Chieftains played at Piper Tuesday and will play host to the Tonganoxie Tournament on Saturday.
The final group of Tonganoxie athletes dealing with the tragedy is the soccer team.
Scheduled to play Lansing on Sept. 11, THS played at De Soto on Thursday. Pre-game activity involved a moment of silence and both teams, along with De Soto cheerleaders, led the singing of the national anthem at midfield.
Soccer coach Harold Pittman said his team didn't have any activity on Sept. 11.
"I believe it was in good respect," Pittman said. "We had our day, not that it goes for just one day."