Comforting words, powerful actions emerge after tragedy

Liz Spenser, photo editor

I arrived early and sat in Corley Auditorium waiting for the memorial service to start on Monday, Nov. 4. I noticed the football players arrive and sit together. Head Football Coach Daryl Daye spoke during the service. As he talked, he spoke of faith, the kind of faith that cuts to the raw part of pain.

“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do,” Daye said. “Take tragedy and turn it into victory.”

As the service progressed, I thought about the coaching staff and the responsibility they face as they lead a team of young men.

This week as I interviewed Cassie Mathes, director of University relations and marketing, on the events of the week, she reflected on the memorial service.

“Daryl Daye just stunned me in how eloquent he was in his speech and in his media interviews,” Mathes said.

Both Mathes and Justin Maskus, athletic media relations director/sports information director, expressed appreciation of the respectful way local media covered the memorial service.

 “We wanted to make sure we respected the privacy of the football players,” said Mathes.

At the close of the service, Daye called the football team to lead the auditorium in the Lord’s Prayer. As we all stood, I bowed my head and took a deep breath. Before I could get the first words out, I heard the booming voices of the football players boldly say in unison,

“Our Father, who art in Heaven …” I smiled and looked up. These young men knew this prayer. The coaches and staff have trained them in knowing these words. The responsibility they face is of deepest importance, to lead young men to be strong leaders with faith to prevail in the midst of tragedy.

That is real faith, faith that develops in the midst of trial and tragedy. What does it take to get through tragedy?

In the words of Interim University President Alan Marble, “It comes down to hope, resilience and determination.”