Tough few weeks to be a parent

Sep. 15—The moment will be etched in my mind forever, the distress in the Jersey Shore player's voice when they told Selinsgrove to call for its athletic trainer.

The look on the Bulldogs' faces when they were told to turn away while the trainers worked on Max Engle.

The haunted expressions of the training staff from both teams as they gathered to be led in prayer by the Bulldogs' Tate Sechrist.

Even from across the field, you knew something was seriously wrong on the Jersey Shore sideline.

It's also been a tough week to be a parent around here. In addition to the injury to Engle, a young girl from Mifflinburg tragically lost her life the week before. So, you feel for both sets of parents, the kids, and look at your own children and not have any idea if you have the strength to go through such unspeakable grief.

As I write this on Thursday morning, my daughter is wearing orange to the Selinsgrove Intermediate School in support of Engle. Friday it's blue for Joslyn Flickinger, the fourth-grader who passed away in Mifflinburg.

Now you have to explain the sanctity of life, and how it can change to a girl, who in my head just got done watching Peppa Pig, and shouldn't have to deal with such things.

I realize I'm not the only one, either. So my thoughts are with all the other parents in the Valley having tough conversations with their kids while dealing with their own grief about it.

I wonder how this affects my daughter as well.

My daughter is 8. She never showed much interest in the football side of high school football. She liked to see the Selinsgrove band perform, and who can't turn down concession stand food? She'll know her father was a high school football writer in Central Pennsylvania just because I made sure her mom took her to see Southern Columbia and Selinsgrove back in 2017 when she was two, just to say she saw Logan Leiby and Julian Fleming play in high school.

That is until this year. At the Snyder County Night Out, a group of Seals and coach Derek Hicks posed for pictures with her. Then, for the first time in her life, she stayed to the end of a football game when Selinsgrove made a goal-line stand against Delaware Valley to finish off a 28-21 victory. Tucker Teats had 140 yards and two touchdowns.

All of sudden before last week's showdown with Jersey Shore, she's drawing a picture of Tucker Teats, and she has two favorite players — Teagan Minnier from the picture and the community pool this summer, and Teats. Also, if she ever reads this, she'll kill me for sharing this with the readers.

She stood at the railing at the front of the stands for most of the game last week, and watched Engle go down. She wore an orange shirt on Monday as well, and her whole class knows and is worried about Max. She's asked every day this week if I've heard anything.

I have to think was last week the height of her football fandom? Will witnessing that at such a young age turn off a sport that I obviously love, but understand the risks?

I don't know if I'd ever let her play, but then again, she's got a good foot, loves soccer, and knows Milton has a female kicker. She'll head a soccer ball soon, so it does seem a little hypocritical of me to say that.

As I said, it's just been a tough week to be a Valley parent.

Todd Hummel covers high school football for The Daily Item.