Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Loss Of A Wildcat

He was an exceptional kid...
That's about all Whitehouse high school athletic director and football coach Randy McFarlin could say at one time without choking up. Only a few hours earlier he had learned that Alexander Fleming, a defensive back on his football team, had been killed in a car accident.

This is the type of thing that isn't in the job description, when you have to face dozens of stunned young men asking why? Why, a kid in the prime of his life, who did the right things, who was wearing his seatbelt, who was driving home after studying with friends, not partying, could be taken away like that? It's not in the job description because it's an unanswerable question. It's a situation that no one deserves, or should ever have to deal with. Even so, Coach McFarlin spent the day consoling his players and wearing a brave face. He answered all the questions he could, he talked to the media and he carried on the best he could.

McFarlin told me Fleming was having a great spring and was a projected starter at cornerback. He said the junior was also a band member who made good grades and had lots of friends. His death would affect nearly every member of the Whitehouse family.

Coach told me when things were at their worst this morning, when he thought he wouldn't be able to last through the day, one of his players walked in with a bible under his arm. At a time when so many kids were counting on the coach for support, that one player helped give the coach hope. Whether we like it or not, coach said, life goes on. And, while he now tries to fill the hole in his defensive backfield, he's also trying to fill the hole in his heart.

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