In the Long run: #8WAYFOREVER

As I’m thinking about this column on Dec. 3 at 3:30 in the morning, the thought of Rashawn Haskins can’t escape my mind. As many of you know, on the night of Dec. 1, Rashawn was involved in a fatal car accident. His death hit the entire school and community like a brick wall. You could feel the sense of emptiness in the air in school that next Monday. It was as if everything stopped.

That weekend, we lost one of the most laid back and brightest people there ever was. What’s even more sad is thinking about everything he was supposed to have in front of him.
I had always thought he was the most underrated player on the football team. He always fought his hardest and earned 1,632 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns for SHS, but hardly got recognition. This year he was selected 6A All-State. Things were finally going his way, but it was taken from him in a split second.

Rashawn was my teammate on the basketball court ever since middle school. However, “close” isn’t really a word I’d use to describe our relationship. So, why was I brought to tears by the news?
It’s because of the bond playing sports creates. Rashawn and I weren’t necessarily close, but we still had a connection that was exclusive. That connection was being a part of the same team.
I remember being in the 8th grade when Rashawn moved to SMS and having that feeling of discomfort you get being around someone you don’t know. But I also remember how quickly that disappeared. He soon stood out as one of the better players on the team, but more importantly, he became a family member.

On a team, you don’t have have to necessarily talk to each other all the time or hang out to feel the connection. It grows through all the long practices, the games, the defensive stops, the offensive runs, the losing streaks, the winning streaks and the time in the weightroom. The connection among a team grows every second spent together.

Not only does this connection grow constantly, but it doesn’t fade. Rashawn and I, like many other people, grew apart in high school, especially after he stopped playing basketball his junior year. Nothing personal. That’s just what high school does. People go their separate ways, and that’s okay, but when I heard the news of his death, an emotion in me flared up.

It was that old team connection. Suddenly I started remembering all the times I’ve played against him at the YMCA, picking him up for all our AAU tournaments in middle school and the time his moves on the court put me on my butt (which is the only time that has ever happened, just saying). I was reminded of a deep connection that I thought was gone, but it wasn’t.

A big part of what makes a team’s connection so special is how everyone is fighting for the same goal. It’s a long and taxing fight, but you’re all in it together. The best thing to compare it to is soldiers in war. Your teammates are your fellow soldiers, and together, you fight. I fought alongside Rashawn for four years and was broken when I found out he was gone. I can’t imagine how people who fought with him for even longer felt.

Rashawn’s death is without a doubt devastating, but it does bring out the beauty in sports. Through all the hard practices and games, true love is formed, and that’s why Rashawn will always be missed. Anyone who has ever stepped on the court or field with him will remember him, and in that way, he will live on forever.