I wanted to save one of my favorite reads over the summer for today. As a nice starting out point for the blog this school year and a quiet way to reflect on such a tragic day in history, I want to recommend The Red Bandanna by Tom Rinaldi. The 2016 book is highly appropriate for September 11, as it is the story of Welles Crowther, a young man of huge heart and epic courage, who ran back up the stairs of the burning World Trade Center tower instead of down to safety. A man only recognized by his trademark red bandanna, who ushered injured people to safety while thinking nothing of the consequences of remaining in the soon to collapse tower. The book relives that tragic morning, the impact Welles had on people when he was alive, and the legacy he leaves behind.
You may ask what this has to do with sports. Welles Crowther was an athlete. He was an undersized underdog who overcame whatever he lacked physically with heart. At the end of the day, he willed himself to become a college football player at Boston College. As a coach, these are the guys I love to have on my team. I have worked with plenty of talented athletes who lacked passion and flamed out, wasting whatever God given talent they were gifted on being mediocre. Most were, not coincidentally, selfish in life. Then there are the kids like Welles, who harness their passion to overcome physical deficiencies and rise above those with greater potential. They are driven by life-they are winners. Not coincidentally, they are selfless. These are also the kinds of guys, like Welles, that are willing to stay in burning buildings to help others out--putting their own safety far down the list of priorities. They face danger, not run from it, because it's in their DNA.
Sadly, Not many of the kids we have in high school today remember 9/11. It's a thought; a remembrance on morning announcements each September 11. It may be a fascinating episode on The History Channel, or a story told by mom or dad, but these 16 year old's were just literally opening their eyes to the world that year.
This is why we must get books like The Red Bandanna in the hands of high school kids. These heroic stories must be kept alive and passed to new generations. I have decided at the beginning of each school year, I am going to give a copy of The Red Bandanna to a young athlete to read. This student will speak to an athletic team on 9/11 about Welles and how he exemplified courage, heroism, and heart--not only in athletics, but in life. Welles story is a great reminder to kids that they are both responsible to themselves in their actions, and responsible to society each day.