Parkland vigil

Mourners gather at a vigil for the victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Thursday. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Don’t we all wish we knew Aaron Feis?

Reporting from the aftermath of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Duncan High School in Florida has told many stories, and the assistant football coach/security guard who took bullets to save students must have been some guy. Sadly, he’ll never know the handshakes he earned, but a nation extends its collective hand.

After wiping our eyes, that is.

Truth is, we might know people like Feis. They coach in familiar high school hallways.

May they never be called upon to take literal bullets, but they take figurative ones. They don’t win enough. They don’t call one kid’s number enough.

One parent’s delusions become the coach’s failure to generate a scholarship. If that parent knows the right people, said delusions become fire from above.

Yet, high school coaches must always stay focused on a bigger picture and trust that enough people around them get it.

A coach once acknowledged to me that some kids play because hanging around school all day beats going home, and a school-supplied meal or two beats nothing.

A coach at a county school told me he’s “in the rehab business,” too often forced to choose between team discipline and one kid who has nothing without sports. The ills of poverty exist in most locales, even if they’re more concentrated in an abandoned few.

Another coach told me his cell phone becomes a hotline for worried moms, because he’s the closest thing to a father figure for way too many kids. This same coach awoke one morning to find a player with nowhere to go, sleeping in the coach’s car.

These same people just might become the next Aaron Feis ... if, God forbid, they must.


Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.