Chesapeake baseball team will travel to site of tragic Florida mass shooting to play ball and honor lost friends
CHESAPEAKE, Va. – Although Western Branch and Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida are 920 miles apart, the connection between the two schools is closer than some might think.
“When this tragedy hit, although it’s far away from home, it hit me close,” said Western Branch head coach Roland Wright.
Coach Wright has been taking his team out of state for invitationals since 2005, but this year in Florida, it will be unlike any other before.
On April 5, the Bruins will play at Stoneman Douglas, the site of the tragic mass shooting that took the lives of 17 people.
For years, Wright has had a relationship with Stoneman Douglas’ baseball coach Todd Fitzgerald and other members of the school.
“I knew the athletic director that passed away, the security guard that passed away, so, it kind of hit me hard,” said Wright. “We know that when we send our kids to school today, we pray it’s not the last time we’re going to see them.”
This season won’t just be about the decal on the front of the helmet for Western Branch. Every time the Bruins suit up to take the field, A Stoneman Douglas High School logo will been seen on the back of their helmets.
“We just wanted a way to honor those victims during the school year. That’s one day, we wanted a way we could honor them everyday,” Wright explained.
The players echo their coach’s sentiments. “We want to represent them and move forward with them and help support them,” said senior shortstop Connor Butler.
It will certainly be a trip for the Bruins that hits home for longer than seven innings.