I wish I didn’t have to write this entry.
I wanted to talk about my great time at the UCONN/Louisville football game at homecoming, all of the funny things that occurred while attempting to score a ticket from the box office when it was discovered I lacked one. Watching the student section go nuts every time we got near the end zone and chanting “Stick it in!” and “That’s another UCONN…FIRST DOWN”. I wanted to talk about how by the end of the day I couldn’t feel my fingers from the cold, and how I went home and had dinner with the team and had a truly wonderful time.
But my mind is, of course, elsewhere. I can’t believe the idea that I watched someone play a tremendous football game, only to discover this morning that he was dead. I didn’t know Jasper Howard, but the team did. He played pickup a lot with the girls during the offseason, when the football team was in training camps and Dad’s group was in summer school. They were a close bunch. They are all devastated at the news of his death.
I am horrified by this senseless act of violence, and how it happened at the unlikeliest of places: The Student Union. For those who aren’t aware, the SU at UCONN is basically a glorified food court and about as threatening as a Care Bear doll. Indeed, it was a second home for me. Before shows at Jorgensen I would walk through the Union and grab a sandwich and juice, and stop to talk to friends who worked at the movie theatre. And before the old SU was torn down, I spent a good deal of my Husky Bucks at Jonathan’s, our excuse for a fast food burger joint.
If people want to drink and make a general mess, they don’t do it at the Student Union. Because it’s forbidden, of course. They do it off campus at the myriad of apartment complexes that become famous during Spring Weekend. The Student Union is a safe haven, a place for the good kids to have fun and sing karaoke. Nobody goes there expecting debauched violence. And certainly nobody goes there expecting death.
I watched the press conference today with Randy Edsall and Jeff Hathaway. Jeff’s been a friend since I was a child, and he looked like a man with a world on his back today. I felt for him, and I felt for Randy.
Watching the tapes, however, I felt the most for Desi Cullen, the senior punter from the team who was as captain required to make a team statement. I knew Desi my senior year of college. Due to theatre commitments (and overall procrastination) I was forced to complete my Biology credit during the summer of 2007, two months after I had officially graduated. Desi had just finished his freshman year at the time and my friend’s lab partner, so he sat at my table. Over the course of the month, as we went on field trips and we got to know each other a little bit and I liked him. He was a good kid. I never dreamed the next time I heard of him would be his devastating speech to the CT press corps. He handled it with tremendous courage and class, and should be commended (although the sound of the cameras clicking viciously every time he got emotional made me physically ill. Shame on you for exploiting his pain).
I hope whoever stabbed Jazz (and the other victim, who remains in critical I’m told) is caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent. If not for Jazz’s sake, than for the sake of his mother, sisters, girlfriend and unborn child. It may bring a sense of closure to this horrendous situation.
The worst is knowing how young he was. He was a year younger than my little brother, who is also an athlete. To think he could get mixed up in a conflict that could end in something like this is almost more than my heart can stand.