Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Armwood title gone, but memories remain

My sons were part of the Armwood High football program for five years.

Related News/Archive

My younger son played on this year's championship team.

After attending Mulrennan Middle on special assignment, the boys moved on to Armwood, their neighborhood school. The football team helped them make the transition.

So because of all the obvious journalistic conflict of interest principles, I've stayed away from writing about the player eligibility controversy dogging the program.

Still, I haven't ignored the news accounts. Neither has Ethan.

He called me at work Tuesday, upset that the Florida High School Athletics Association ruled the Hawks must relinquish their trophy and pay more than $12,000 in fines and investigative costs. He didn't say the ruling was wrong, but I could hear the hurt in his voice.

A television reporter reached out to him seeking a comment. He said he wanted to respond, but I worried it might not be the best forum. I joked that his brother and sister recently wrote columns for the newspaper and maybe he could write one.

He didn't laugh, but he did write something.

As a father, I worry about the criticism he might receive. As a journalist, however, I've decided not to interfere with his First Amendment rights.

Here's what he wrote:

The FHSAA officials can take away our title, the monuments, the trophies, the honors, the public appearances and whatever else comes with winning the Class 6A state football championship.

But they can't take it all.

Through my four years being a part of the team, I have obtained a plethora of experiences that no association could ever take away.

All the seniors I played with my junior year join Matthew Hooper on my list of big brothers. Through their constant teasing and encouragement, they have left a mark on me — not with ink and paper, but with blood and tears.

They can't take that away.

My senior teammates, the Class of 2012, became my first friends when I started at Armwood four years ago, not really knowing anyone because I went to middle school in Valrico. I'll never relinquish those friendships because of some ruling.

The bonds we formed working out under those bleachers and how our friendship grew with every season will remain with me forever.

They can't take that away.

All the underclassmen who I jokingly designated as my proteges, who I've watched grow and become their own person despite some being obnoxious, will remain those loving thorns in my sides.

They can't take that away.

Every single one of my coaches who have inspired me to continue being my fun-loving self will stick with me for the rest of my life. Say what you want to say about head coach Sean Callahan, but he will forever remain one of the biggest influences in my life.

They can't take that away.

They can't take away the memories of our team's Las Vegas trip and me singing with teammate Skylar Clark in an airport restaurant.

They can't take away the big hugs of congratulations, the smiles on my teammates' faces after I scored my first touchdown against King.

They can't take away the moment at our last-hit ceremony when I read a poem that expressed my inner thoughts of being part of such a brotherhood.

They can't take away the self-proclaimed greatest victory run the Citrus Bowl has ever seen executed by me and the team after we won our state championship.

Most importantly, they can't take away one of my best friends on the team even though they deemed him "ineligible."

So go ahead, take the title. We know in our hearts that we left it all out on the field.

Armwood title gone, but memories remain

06/21/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 21, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries


    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  3. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?



    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.
  5. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.