Sometimes sports offer an escape from the realities, or tragedies of life. On Friday, the Stoneman Douglas baseball and softball teams got a chance to meet players from the Marlins, during their first spring training game at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter.
“It was a great experience,” said Jackie McKenna, who is on the Stoneman Douglas softball team. “They came up to us and we got some autographs and pictures. It was really cool. Especially seeing Derek Jeter.”
“It felt good and it was fun,” said Stoneman Douglas student Alex Mayi, who carries a picture of his friend, who was killed in last week’s shooting in his wallet.
The teams from Stoneman Douglas were watching the Marlins play the Cardinals and appreciated the message on the Marlin’s hats: Douglas Strong.
It’s now more true than ever.
“This happening, we all talk a lot more and hang out as a team,” Jackie said.
A few rows away, John McKenna said he’s just glad to see his son and daughter smile again.
“It’s been a long week,” John said. “These kids have been through a lot. And just to see smiles back on their faces its priceless. Priceless.”
At home the McKenna family talks a lot about what happened.
“There’s nothing worse than letting it eat you up from inside,” John said. “You have to talk about it.”
And what happened on Feb. 14 is still a very vivid memory.
“It was scary,” Chris McKenna said. “Very scary.”
Chris said he ran into the shooter moments before the shooting.
“I had to go to the bathroom,” Chris remembered. “As I was walking through the doors to go to the stairs, he was there loading up the gun. He then told me to: ‘go run, get out of here, things are going to get messy here’. So I ran out the door and ran to the closest security guard, Coach Feis, and then he took me to the baseball field and then he told me to run to get away. And then he went back in to help the students and he became a hero.”
The students say there are at the game representing those of their classmates and teachers who lost their lives.
“We’re Douglas Strong,” Alex said.