The Colts are a team – on the field and in the community.
“In Indiana, when one town and city and school is grieving – we all are,” said Coach Frank Reich.
And when they hit the practice field, they showed it.
The Colts mixed some black and gold with their blue and white uniforms on Wednesday afternoon.
“Hopefully, you noticed the t-shirts that our players had on in warm ups and the coaches are still wearing,” he said. “Just thinking about the community up in Noblesville and showing our support for them.”
Last Friday, a student opened fire on a classroom at Noblesville West Middle School, injuring 13-year-old Ella Whistler and teacher Jason Seaman, who was shot while tackling the student to the ground.
Seaman has been hailed a hero by many, including Coach Reich.
“It’s a complete regard for the other person before himself to stop something catastrophic from happening,” he said. “What he did is truly remarkable and inspiring.”
For Reich, the incident hits close to home – as a father and a son.
“I come from a family of educators. My mom and dad were both schoolteachers. I was on the school board. I’ve been very actively involved in a lot of high school and junior high stuff,” he said. “Our youngest daughter just graduated from college this past year. I’ve never had that conversation with any of our three girls – what to do if that happened. I can’t imagine having to have that conversation with your three daughters.”
It’s something cornerback Pierre Desir has to think about every day.
“Being a father of three with two girls that are in school, you always wonder if this can happen to you. For me, I put faith in the teachers, the school system – that they’re going to handle every situation correctly, you’ve just got to go in there with confidence in them.”
Seaman went above and beyond for his students, sacrificing his safety for theirs.
A college football player at Southern Illinois and a football coach at Noblesville West, Reich has no doubt Seaman’s football training helped him react.
“There are so many great lessons to be learned through sports,” he said. “In football, you learn that it’s about sacrificing yourself for your teammate. And this is the ultimate way of doing that.”
Now in his third season with the team, offensive lineman Joe Haeg has seen the Colts come together in support of Hoosiers in countless ways.
“It’s a great organization to be a part of,” he said. “It’s a great community. You can just tell that everyone really looks out for each other.”
Just like the fans have their back, the Colts strive to give back – wearing their hearts on their sleeves and also their tees.
“We want them to know they have our support,” Reich said. “Our hearts are with them.”
Jason Seaman was released from the hospital on Saturday and is doing well. Ella Whistler remains hospitalized in stable condition. A support account for both victims has been established through the Noblesville Schools Education Foundation.
Proceeds from t-shirt sales also benefit both victims.