Jack, Jenna, all student athletes ‘in our hearts’
By Jon Tatting—
Students at Rush City High School traded their school colors for red and white on Friday, Jan. 13, in support of injured hockey player Jack Jablonski.
They raised dollars for him by placing stickers with Jack’s #13 on hats of their choice while signing posters for the Benilde-St. Margaret’s sophomore as well as St. Croix Lutheran senior Jenna Privette (#23) who was also severely injured during a hockey game last month.
Above all, the students were supporting safe sports play and good sportsmanship in wake of the check from behind that sent Jack into the boards and left him paralyzed last December. The incident has since led to a new, stiffened penalty structure imposed by the Minnesota State High School League.
Driven to reach out and raise awareness on the issue, the Student Council and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) chapter at Rush City High collaborated on the activities, which was received well by the student body.
“You don’t have to know someone to pray for them,” said Morgan Twingstrom, vice president of the council. She noted the students in Rush City can relate to Jablonski and Privette because they, too, are teenagers, student athletes and realize tragedy in sports can strike at any time.
“We feel we don’t show enough support of all student athletes,” commented fellow student and SADD President Marissa Belau of what sparked the group’s involvement.
Fellow upperclassman Adam Engel, who serves as SADD’s treasurer, noted the Jablonski tragedy really touched his father who is an alumnus of Benilde-St. Margaret’s, a Catholic, college-preparatory school for grades 7-12 in St. Louis Park.
“I would go out and make Jack proud and play with more caution,” said Engel if he were playing hockey. “Life can change in the blink of an eye.”
“It’s a wake up call for all student athletes,” added Twingstrom.
Prior to the student-led benefit and dress up day on Friday, RCHS teacher Erica Matzke said she engaged in good conversation with her ninth graders and seniors who were honest in asking why Rush City was getting involved. Imagine your life suddenly changing at 16, and you will never be able to feed or dress yourself or always need special living accommodations, she challenged the students to think about.
“The students are learning about putting the shoe on the other foot. They are realizing, if this (what happened to Jablonski, for instance) happened to them, they’d want others to help out, too,” she explained.
At the end of the day Friday, Matzke said $80 was raised through the hat benefit along with individual donations from students and staff for Jablonski. In fact, Twingstrom and others are planning to personally deliver the funds and student-signed posters to Hennepin County Medical Center where the injured athletes are being treated.
“It’s moving,” said Matzke of the students’ efforts at Rush City High. “I’m glad to be part of a community that is supporting this.”