Wesleyan Christian football team makes emotional return to the field as it honors fallen teammate Ben Hamm
Hamm, a junior linebacker for Wesleyan Christian High School, died last Saturday after an injury he sustained during a game Sept. 11 against Woodland High School.
All throughout the stadium Friday night,Cheap Jerseys china spectators donned shirts and altered Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings jerseys that featured Hamm’s No. 28.
Shortly before its game with Welch High School, fans gathered around the Wesleyan bench and released purple, black and white balloons into the air followed by a 28 second moment of silence. Team captains carried Hamm’s jersey as they walked to midfield for the coin toss.
A piece of art that had been crafted into a football jersey showcasing Hamm’s number was unveiled next to the scoreboard beyond the south end zone. It will be a permanent fixture at all Wesleyan Christian home games.
It had been an emotional week for a school and community that had been trying to cope with the untimely death of a popular athlete and student who was described as a leader on the football field and took pride in wearing calf length socks that featured the image of former NBA great Larry Bird.
“This game is something we needed,” Rocky Clark, the school’s superintendent said with tears in his eyes. “It was something the community could rally around.”
After quickly falling behind 8 0 early in the first quarter, Wesleyan Christian scored the next 41 points of the half en route to a convincing 54 8 win.
It was a performance that was symbolic of the way Hamm played, said head coach Nathan England, who was tasked with the job of preparing his team for a game in the midst of grieving.
“We wanted to come out and play fast and physical and hard just like Ben did,” England said after the game. “It felt good to play like we did and win the way we did, because the emotions over the last two weeks had been up and down.”
Freshman running back Sheldon Woodward, who scored a season high four touchdowns, said Hamm’s death galvanized the team and inspired them to play with a greater purpose moving forward.
“We hadn’t played that good before,” Woodward said. “His death brought us together. We are there for each other now, and we have more unity.”
Woodward, who wore a pair of Hamm’s old cleats during the game, said he would often think about his friend and teammate while on the sidelines and between plays.