After The Whistle: Marion Local Tragedy Reminds Us Hurt Will Fade, But Memories Should Not

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2007 ML graduates Jordan Diller, Jordan Goettemoeller, Bradley Roeckner and Jordan Moeller passed away in an auto accident

Above the computer in my home office is a bulletin board my grandfather made. He passed away this past December. On it I have a picture of my other grandfather. He was buried in November. I also have pictures from my senior football and basketball seasons at Bellbrook High School. They too serve as a memorial.

I also have lost teammates, classmates and friends.


Above the computer in my home office is a bulletin board my grandfather made. He passed away this past December.

On it I have a picture of my other grandfather. He was buried in November.

I also have pictures from my senior football and basketball seasons at Bellbrook High School. They too serve as a memorial.

I also have lost teammates, classmates and friends.

Not at once. Not all together. Not even in the same year.

But they’re gone. I know the hurt. I know the sting. I know…

Death is hardly ever good. Especially when it happens to someone young, energetic and talented. Especially when it happens to someone like that times four.

On March 15, 2008, former Marion Local football players and 2007 graduates Jordan Diller, Jordan Goettemoeller and Bradley Roeckner were killed in a car accident. A fourth Marion Local graduate – Jordan Moeller – was driving the car and also perished. The foursome was hit by a driver that ran a stop sign.

Connected by more than a first name, Diller and Goettemoeller along with Roeckner were members of the Flyers 2006 Division V state championship football team. Roeckner and Goettemoeller were offensive linemen. Diller was a linebacker.

Moeller didn’t play football. He excelled elsewhere. Moeller was the Flyers No. 1 golfer as a senior.

That 2006 football team was special.

Despite a 1-2 start with losses to Coldwater and St. Henry, the Flyers reeled off 12 straight wins and added the school’s third state title. The win streak now stands at 27.

I didn’t have nearly that kind of ending to my high school career. Our class’s claim to fame was that we blocked well enough for our running back and my best friend Nachie Conte to set the Bellbrook High School single season rushing record at 1,445 yards.

In February of 1994, during basketball season, Nachie committed suicide. My teammates and I signed a football, put it in his casket and carried both to their final resting place.

At baccalaureate four months later I spoke about Nachie and cried in front of the entire senior class. As I exited the stage my friend and football teammate Jon Ellinger was the first to greet me. He thanked me for speaking. Jon, like Roeckner and Goettemoeller, played on the offensive line.

A few years later Jon died. He was riding a motorcycle in Columbus and did not survive an accident. I did not carry his casket, but I visited it.

Two years ago, I got the third call. I was actually in Coldwater delivering copies of MVP to Chief’s Market and my wife called. Benji had died.

Benji Dice and I played basketball together since fourth-grade. Our senior year he was the team’s leading scorer and I was second. We were both forwards, first team all-league and starters in the district all-star game.

Benji was murdered in Dayton in an apparent drug deal gone bad. He was shot in the back.

Three teammates. Different deaths. Different years. Same feeling. Same impact.

Sports teaches us many important life skills – winning, losing, working hard, being modest. The list goes on.

One lesson I continue to lean on – and one that I argue is the most important sports teaches us – is the ability to bounce back from defeat. Death is loss. Death is defeat.

In football success and failure occurs on every play. Never is it 100-percent one way or the other for either team. No one wins all the time, every play. The same is true in life.

Grieving takes longer than a football play, though, and healing lasts forever.

To this day I wonder what it would be like to be able to talk to Nachie, Jon or Benji again. I’m sure those that knew Jordan, Jordan, Brad and Jordan feel the same way – and they always will. The key is not letting that affect your next play negatively.

I use the photos on my bulletin board as inspiration. I use them as motivation. And I use them in tandem.

Included on the board, amongst pictures of friends and family past, are pictures of new arrivals to this world as well. My friends’ kids and my own litter the collage. Call them the second string.

The most recent additions are pictures of my second daughter born in June of last year.

Her name? Jordan.

Coincidence? Yes. But will I ever forget? No.

And neither should you.

Reminders will be there every day.

Use them as an advantage. Be better the next play.

They would want you to be.

After The Whistle is a new feature to JJHuddle.com in which Managing Editor Eric Frantz will offer his thoughts and comments on events and situations that shape and involve the sports we follow and those that play them. This article also appears in its entirety in the current issue of the Miami Valley Sports Magazine. (http://www.miamivalleysports.com/)

One thought on “After The Whistle: Marion Local Tragedy Reminds Us Hurt Will Fade, But Memories Should Not

  1. ryancsportsmom

    I was fortunate to find this today and found it to be a wonderful composition. Eric, my condolences for your losses. This story was very touching.

    Reply

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