Call it invigorated empathy or love with lacrosse. Whichever, two schools in Colorado and Connecticut find themselves inextricably bonded by the most horrific of ordeals: A tragic school mass shooting.
Now, months removed from the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the boys lacrosse team from Columbine (Co.) High will visit its counterpart at Newtown (Ct.) High to share their support as the sleepy Connecticut community continues to heal following Adam Lanza’s rampage in December. The story of Columbine’s side trip to Newtown was reported by the Journal-News, which touched on the relationship that the school’s coach has with nearby Westchester County in New York.
Naturally, if any community in America can understand the shock, grief and transformative trauma that Newtown is living through, it’s Columbine. In 1999, two teenagers walked into the Columbine High cafeteria and opened fire, killing 12 students.
Though those dark days in Colorado occurred more than a decade ago, Columbine boys lacrosse coach Matt Plitnick said that the actions of suicide shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold is still a prevalent part of the town’s fabric.
“It’s still a part of this community,” Plitnick, a native of Scarsdale New York, told the Journal News. “It’s part of our fabric. It’s something that is brought up constantly, something we don’t forget.”
Knowing that Newtown wouldn’t be able to forget was what inspired Columbine to reach out on its own. The school’s lacrosse team was already scheduled for a spring break trip to play against traditional New York powers Yorktown (N.Y.) High and Cross River (N.Y.) John Jay High.
After the horrific yet familiar (for them) scenes of December 15, the Columbine program decided to schedule a separate visit to Columbine, at which point the team would meet with parents of the victims, among others.
The effort was a touching one on the part of the Columbine squad, which already had a busy schedule during its limited time in the New York area. Still, for those who lived through the aftermath of one horrific school shooting, there is an understanding that some things are bigger than lacrosse.