Parachute community rallies behind White |

Parachute community rallies behind White

Jon Mitchell
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

PARACHUTE, Colorado – Grand Valley High School’s football team dealt with plenty of distractions prior to its Class 2A state playoff game against Middle Park on Saturday.

In essence, it was one big distraction prior to the Cardinals’ 21-14 loss to the Panthers at Toby LeBorgne Stadium. It was an emotional distraction, for sure, as senior running back Jake White was hospitalized following an accident in the school’s auto shop class on Wednesday.

The Parachute community, however, took plenty of action to turn a potentially tragic distraction into a positive one. Signs, T-shirts and stickers had a prevailing presence before and during the game, and White even got to watch the game from the “sideline” while in intensive care at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.

Negative aspects of the event, however, still hung over the team.

“One of our brothers nearly lost his life,” said Grand Valley senior running back Tanner Zimmerman, who rushed for 96 yards on 18 carries for the Cardinals. “We tried to come out and play for him. There were a lot of emotions here. I can’t wait to see my friend again and see that he’s OK.”

According to Cynthia Hurst, whose son, Wyatt Hurst, is one of White’s best friends, White was knocked into a machine that severed nerves and arteries in his left leg after a truck in the shop, which was started while in gear, shifted forward.

He underwent his third surgery on Friday and is in intensive care in St. Mary’s Hospital. Hurst said he was moving his toes, and he is expected to regain feeling in his leg in three to six months.

Emblems of the community’s support for White, known by his teammates as “Cobo,” were evident. Each of Grand Valley’s football players wore White’s No. 33 on the back of their football cleats.

Parents sold out of the 300 shirts reading “We Love You Cobo!” All proceeds from the shirts, which sold for $6 each, will go to the family to help pay medical expenses. Some Middle Park fans were seen making donations without purchasing a shirt.

Prior to the game, both teams walked out to the center of the field hand in hand and wished each other good luck. It was a gesture agreed upon by both Grand Valley coach Mike Johnson and Middle Park coach Troy Schmidt which, though out of the ordinary, was deemed appropriate given the circumstance.

“We sure miss Cobo. We really do,” Johnson said. “We sure hope he’s in the bed getting better.”

White, as it turned out, watched the whole game from his bed. Brenden Neuleib, a senior who had to miss the game because of injury, held an iPad on the sideline in a video call, giving White a view of the game in its entirety. And when the game’s starting lineups were announced, White was announced as the final player, to which Grand Valley’s crowd gave a standing ovation.

Yet, after Saturday’s loss, Johnson couldn’t ignore the emotional toll that White’s absence took on his team.

“I think our kids put a lot on their shoulders to try to be more than what we needed to be,” Johnson said. “We always worry about the distractions surrounding homecoming week. Well, this week, we had a real distraction, and I think the kids might have been emotionally drained.”

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