April 20, 2014

Excerpt from Sports Illustrated’s cover story on Chardon’s Frank Hall

frank-hall-sports-illustrated-cover

Frank Hall, the football coach turned hero on the morning of the tragic shootings at Chardon High School, is the cover story for the June 24 issue of Sports Illustrated. The electronic version (as with most SI stories) will not be released for at least a few days, but the print version is more than worth the money of every Clevelander—not just sports fans. National Magazine Award-winner Gary Smith depicts the chilling, detailed horros of this February morning while providing background context and the “I should have done more” emotions that paralyzed Hall for an extended amount of time.

Below is an excerpt from the story. We encourage you all to read the other 10,000 words sooner than later. It’s a story that should have never happened, but one that should never be forgotten.

His eyes swept the room, his pen checking off the study-hall attendance list as the morning announcements ended. The three football players always at his elbow at 7:37—fullback John Connic, who used Frank’s file drawers as his personal locker, and the Izar twins, defensive end Tom and linebacker Quinn—were all missing that day, John off taking a test and the Izards, thank God, late for school. Besides the cafeteria staff, Frank was now the only adult in the room.

Two loud pops jerked his head to the right. His hearing had alwaysy been bad. Firecrackers, he thoguht. Then came another pop and another as he rose andd took in the whirl of one boy slumped over a table, two others crumpled to the floor, two staggering away with bullet wounds, and a mad scramble of screaming children everywhere in the room.

Here it was, the question lodged in the recesses of all the educators’ brains in America, the one that their minds race to and away from without ever resolving,the one to which the rest of us seem to have unconsciously agreed to condemn them all: What will I do if a kid in my school pulls out a gun and starts shooting?

Here’s what Frank never could’ve guessed, all the years, his mind had darted to and from that question: His anger trumped everything; it trampled thought and even fear. It sent his legs barging right through his brown table and straight at the gunman, sent his hand flying up, sent his voice booming, “Stop! Stop!”

You can subscribe to Sports Illustrated here and purchase the tablet edition here. Smith’s discussion, via podcast, of the reporting involved in this story can be heard here.

  • mgbode

    got it in the mail yesterday. article is well done and the overtones are there but only touched on rather than clobbering what was a great story about a great man.

  • Garry_Owen

    What overtones?

  • mgbode

    the political overtones that could turn such an article into nothing more than a bickering between those with established stances on the issue. the author mentions it throughout (hard not to), but does so in a way that allows the reader to focus on Frank Hall rather than just a piece that would be written for HuffPost or FoxNews.

  • Garry_Owen

    Gotcha. Thanks.
    It is indeed hard not to mention those things. I was in Chardon that day, and two members of my family (in-law) are public school teachers (though not in Chardon). That issue has been a primary subject in our family conversations.
    Glad to know that Smith is apparently able to navigate that minefield in the article.