A teammate gone, a beloved teacher gone, a sister gone
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Cody Beauford spent Saturday in an epic battle for trench supremacy.
His weary smile was a testament to who won that battle and the game.
Hugging classmates and coaches, shaking hands with parents and supporters, and spending a special moment with his family, Cody and his teammates were relishing in the ultimate form of high school football happiness.
The junior linebacker and lineman played a huge role in the Bears’ 14-7 first-round playoff victory over Roosevelt.
It’s a day he won’t soon forget.
Neither will he forget June 10, 2006. That was the day he said goodbye to his older sister Megan Beauford.
Cody’s smile disappears as he remembers.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her,” he says after the game. “I think about her before every game, every play – she’s my inspiration.”
The smile is gone for the moment.
Sixteen-year-old Megan died after a single-car accident. At her funeral, many wore gray T-shirts that read “Megan B. Gone but not forgotten.”
Cody will not forget.
Time has healed the pain, but the it still hurts when he thinks about Megan.
On one of his happiest days of his life, Cody wishes his sister could have seen him play.
The Rifle Bears are in the midst of a dream season. Undefeated at 11-0, Western Slope League champions and now in the final eight of the Class 3A playoffs.
But there’s pain behind the dream.
For Cody, he thinks about Megan. For junior Ryan Moeller and senior Taylor Webb, they think about their best friend and teammate Austin Booth.
Austin died last January from complications from the flu. He was the ultimate teammate.
“He was someone who everybody liked,” Ryan said about his friend earlier this season.
“He was an amazing kid,” Webb said after the Bears beat Olathe. “Every single player out here liked him. He was everybody’s friend.”
Before the season, the team decided to put a gold sticker on the back of their helmets in memory of Austin Booth, who wore No. 2. A No. 2 sticker serves as a reminder and a motivation.
Austin Booth has served as a powerful motivation for the Bears throughout their undefeated season. A season that has had its share of dramatic, memorable moments.
After a miraculous last-second 45-yard field goal by Marco Gutierrez to beat Battle Mountain, 22-21, head coach Damon Wells couldn’t help but give credit to No. 2.
“We believe that Austin Booth was looking down upon us. … There’s no doubt about it.”
High school kids shouldn’t have to deal with torment of family and friends dying. High school is about fun, good times and special memories.
This football team has been handed some tough lessons in perspective. Football is not about life and death. But football is about a team and what it takes to succeed on the field. Of course, many of those lessons learned on the football field will translate into success when they leave high school.
Now, there’s another sticker on the back of their helmets.
“SC” is beside the “2.”
It’s for Steve Chesley, who was killed in a mountain biking accident on Oct. 21.
He taught in the school district for 27 years.
Plenty of tragedy – too much tragedy. A high school football team shouldn’t have to deal with this much tragedy. But still they persevere. And still they win. And still they dream.
A classmate and teammate gone, a beloved teacher gone, a sister gone.
The dream of winning a state championship – still alive.
“I wish she could be here to watch me play,” Cody says, his voice cracking.
“She’s my inspiration, ” he repeats. “I miss her.”
There’s plenty of inspiration for the Bears this season.
Austin Booth, Steve Chesley and Megan Beauford.
They won’t soon be forgotten.
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s the nightmares that inspire and fuel the dreams of young men.
Dale Shrull is a freelance writer for the Post Independent.
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Seniors in Rifle High School drama aren’t squandering their final hurrah.