It’s been more than five months since Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. became the site of the worst mass school shooting in U.S. history. In the intervening period, two of the school’s football coaches have been reassigned, the baseball world wrapped its arms around the school’s run through the state playoffs and students became genuine civic leaders as the conversation about how the incident should impact future policy ebbed and flowed.
Now, as the 2018-19 school year beckons, Stoneman Douglas’ football program is getting back to work, starting with a traditional Midnight Madness practice as Sunday became Monday to kick off proceedings.
While there was clearly work done on the field, the Eagles also showed at the end of the session that they’re going to try to keep things light and put each day in perspective. How? By having a water balloon fight.
Here was the scene, as captured by Miami Associated Press writer Tim Reynolds:
Note that only balloons and no water pistols or other water weapons were allowed. It’s possible that was by accident, but we doubt it (And good on the MSD players for sticking with a theme assuming that is the case).
In Reynolds excellent story on MSD’s first practice, the team notably made special note of the memory of late assistant coach Aaron Feis, who died while saving a number of students during the shooting in February. Another victim was teammate Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, the teen who was famously buried in Dwyane Wade’s jersey. The locker that would have been his has now been painted gold.
Coaches stressed taking pride in wearing the school’s jersey and representing the name, putting forward a strong, positive foot in the recovery from such a traumatic event. Even the Parkland, Fla. mayor was in attendance at the event in the middle of the night.
Also there? Feis’ sister, Johanna Feis, who has long helped the program with some of its clerical duties, including producing and distributing the final roster.
“I just want to make sure the kids will be OK,” Feis told Reynolds at the practice. “It’s difficult to be here. But at the end of the day, it’s nice that I can go sit in my brother’s chair. These kids, they loved my brother so much and they still do. And I think it’s amazing. They know they’re making him proud.”