The Swanton softball team has been performing a grand gesture this spring.
Before each game, the Bulldogs are warming up in maroon t-shirts that say #MSDStrong on the front with the number 17 on the back, which honors the 17 people who lost their lives at the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida Feb. 14.
It also recognizes the 17 that were wounded but survived the violent attack.
“I think it’s important for everyone in this area to know,” said Swanton coach Joe Nye. “Every game we have gone to, other teams ask what it means. That’s the main reason, to let people know that we are supporting them and people in this area are finding out what that shirt means. I feel very strongly as a teacher. What they (teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High) did there, shielding kids and a few teachers died doing that. It’s the ultimate sacrifice.”
Aaron Feis was one of those who were killed shielding students. Chris Hixon was shot and killed racing to the gunfire. And Scott Beigel was killed while unlocking a classroom for kids to take cover.
”There have been kids (from Stoneman Douglas) who spoke out nationally who have gotten threats,” Nye said. “I wish they would pick on somebody their own size.”
And then there are those who think, “it can’t happen here.”
The weeks after, a number of schools in Fulton County where major crimes are a rarity, had threats. One of those turned out to be viable enough to search the building, while other schools cancelled for the day.
“I rallied the team together to support the students down there,” said one of Nye’s players, senior Olivia Williams. “It could’ve easily happened to us, we can’t forget about it because we can’t let things like this keep happening. I just thought the more aware our team is and the more aware we can make other students at our school and other schools (is important).”
Sometimes from the mouths of teens the most intelligent words come. And sometimes the actions of teens, like those on the Swanton Bulldog softball team, are much more intelligent than those years older.
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org