PUBLISHER’S COLUMN: WE THE PEOPLE
Like many who take even a casual interest in sports, I was curious to see how Aaron Rodgers would fare in his debut as quarterback with the New York Jets as they faced the Buffalo Bills in Monday Night Football action early this week.
And, like many who either tuned in to the primetime telecast or caught word later, I was stunned when he was carted off the field after his fourth snap of the game with what was later revealed to be an Achilles injury that has ended his season and — who knows — possibly his career.
While it’s unfortunate for him and for all those Jets fans who put their eggs in the Rodgers basket, I have little concern about it all.
What is of far greater impact is the injury of another quarterback — our own Riley Tschetter.
The Freeman High School sophomore standout who has shown to be ahead of his time behind center for the Freeman/Marion/Freeman Academy Phoenix will miss the rest of the season with a bad injury of his own — an ACL tear. It happened during the team’s game against Avon on Sept. 1 and was confirmed to be serious after an MRI the following week.
The family isn’t speculating on what the recovery and rehabilitation will look like exactly, but is hopeful he’ll be ready to go when the baseball season rolls around next year.
We all hope so.
In the same way I hold little care about the Rodgers situation, I care deeply for Riley and the Tschetter family because they are friends. In small towns like Freeman, setbacks like this become personal, and while that may do little to ease the disappointment the Tschetters feel, it’s important they know that they are not alone.
One of the reasons that Stacey and I chose to settle in Freeman and raise a family here after getting married in 2004 was for that very reason — that true sense of community. And we have felt it ever since, whether it’s through the friendships we have made, neighbors we have gotten to know or experiences we have enjoyed with other people.
This is not unique to Freeman, of course. Others who live in Any Small Town, USA will say the same thing, but because I have a lifelong personal relationship with this community, it is this town and these people who are dearest to me.
So when adversity strikes as it did Riley Tschetter two weeks ago — and also junior Sawyer Wipf, who broke his hand in the same game — we all share a sense of hurt, loss, and hope for better days ahead.
The football season will carry on and the loss to injury will have an impact, but there is strength in resilience that I believe will ultimately turn an unfortunate situation into something better.
In the meantime, the Freeman community shares in a collective nod and fist bump in the direction of those most impacted by what happened on Sept. 1, as if to say, “We’ve got you.”
Jeremy Waltner: Husband to Stacey and Dad to Ella & Oliver, who is still hopeful the Phoenix can make a deep postseason run.