((HT: Des Moines Register))
It's hard to fathom that five years have passed since the senseless shooting of Aplington-Parkersburg (IA) High head football coach Ed Thomas. Thomas took two towns worth of high school football players and turned them into champions more often than not in Iowa football.
He had kids graduate and, eventually, make their way to the National Football League. But one of Thomas' most-recalled tenets is that "if all I did was teach you how to block and tackle, then I have failed as a coach." He was just as proud of all those who left A-P with a diploma and went on to their chosen lives off the football field. But, by all indications, everyone flocked back to him at A-P to seek counsel, guidance, reassurance, and above all to remain a part of the Falcons community.
A former player Mark Becker, diagnosed with mental illness, went into the A-P weight room five years ago early in the morning and shot Thomas multiple times. Becker is serving a life sentence while his mental illness is being treated and has since shown remorse for shooting and killing "his friend." Becker's parents are now public speakers on mental illness and have made sure that Iowa law now alerts communities when patients are released into society.
The Register staff went back to A-P to see how the community is doing and John Naughton's article is the start of a must-read section on it all...