Last week on September 4th Kadin Lee Roberts-Day (KRD), a sophomore at Joplin High School collapsed in the gym during football practice and died from cardiac arrest. When someone dies unexpectedly, especially that young, it’s difficult to process. Both of my kids attend this school and didn’t know Kadin very well but that didn’t matter because the impact of his passing in this small community was felt in a profound way by all, no matter who you are or how well you knew KRD. That’s the bad part of what happened last week, but it’s not the entire story.
High School football is alive and well in Joplin and we have a really solid team this year; maybe one of the best ever. On Friday we were supposed to face off against our arch-rival, the Webb City Cardinals. The Cardinals have a 274-25 win/loss record under coach John Roderique who has been named Coach Of The Year 11 of his 23 seasons and has lead his team to 11 Missouri Class 4 State Championships. Not bad right? These guys live and breathe football and our Joplin Eagles have not won a game against them since 1990, and this year, we had to play them at home and we haven’t beaten them in their stadium since 1941. Since KRD died on Wednesday the administrators thought they should give our kids as much time to grieve as possible so they pushed the game from Friday to Saturday, so now we were the only high school football game in the area being played that night. It was going to be a packed house.
To add even more meaning to this story, Kadin’s mother LaShanda, joined her son’s football team in a moment of silence at the school. After the prayers and lots of tears, she told the team that her son was always talking about how much he wanted to beat Webb City. The Eagles were torn apart after the loss of their teammate and the coaches were suffering just as bad. So it really wasn’t a question of beating Webb, it was more about holding it together long enough to get through the game. But now they had a purpose.
It was standing room only with over 7,500 people filling the seats. Some parents got together and made up t-shirts to honor KRD’s memory so it was a sea of red in the visitor and home sections of the stadium. The Webb City community was mourning the loss right alongside Joplin and blew us away with their support. Cheerleaders stayed up all night baking cookies to sell for $1 so they could raise money to pay for the funeral. The 50/50 pot was donated to KRD’s family. And when the Joplin Eagles took the field that night, there wasn’t a single person from Webb or Joplin sitting down. Everyone in the stadium was on their feet clapping for the Eagles team. (To anyone from Webb City that happens to read this post, I want you to know that your kindness that night made a HUGE impact on all of us from Joplin so THANK YOU for that.) Both teams met mid-field for a group prayer, after that there were many hugs and handshakes followed by the first play of the game which ended in a penalty. In a sign of solidarity, Joplin took the field short one player as a symbolic gesture for their missing man, and Webb City declined the penalty. More tears. Game on.
Joplin knew they were going to have to play the game of their life to beat the Cardinals and it started out just as we needed it to. The Eagles drove the ball 71 yards ending in a 6-yard touchdown pass, followed by a fumble recovery and another touchdown for Joplin. At half-time, the score was 28-7 Eagles, but we knew that it wouldn’t be enough to win because Webb is just that good. Sure enough, the Cardinals came back strong in the second half, getting within a touchdown. With 5:47 left in the game, Isaiah Davis broke a 47 yard run for a first down but we ended up that drive with a 4th and 14 with three minutes remaining; plenty of time for the Cardinals to score. In the end, Blake Tash passed the ball to Zach Westmoreland who brought it in for a 15-yard gain and the first down we needed to run the clock out. Joplin Eagles win 35-28. RIP #63…that one was for you.
I’m sharing this story today for a few reasons. The kindness showed to Joplin by Webb City, and so many surrounding towns was overwhelming and makes you feel good to live where you do; the people in this little corner of Missouri are pretty dang incredible. The other part of this story is to point out the impact of purpose in your life. Purpose can drive your business, give your life the north star it needs, bring your family together, and even help you win football games. We have some incredibly talented players on the Joplin Eagles football team, but there is no doubt in my mind that when those kids made it about something bigger than themselves, it gave them the edge that they needed to get that win for KRD.
There were a lot of prayers last week. Prayers for peace and understanding. Prayers for strength. Prayers to win that game. The final score was 35-28. 35+28= 63 which happens to be Kadin’s jersey number. The game was played on 9/7. 9×7= 63. Then there was this cloud in the sky that looked a lot like the head of an Eagle. Some people might write those things off as coincidence which I understand, but other people would say that God’s presence was in that stadium giving those boys a little push. I guess I’m one of those “other people.” Hope I always am.
Rest in peace Kadin Roberts-Day. October 1, 2003-September 4, 2019 #KRD #63
Wow! I am one of those people too Mark. Thank you for sharing this. I needed a good cry. Happy and sad tears both. My hat is off to both communities. Thank you for being compassionate and properly focused. May we all learn from you and follow your lead.
Thanks as always for reading Pete and for the comments. It is always amazing to me how good things can come from such bad situations.
Found this through LinkedIn. Thanks for sharing this Mark. Community and Faith coming together during a time of tragedy ALWAYS brings light to a dark situation. Thanks again brother.
Thank you Chris!
Thanks for writing this. My son is one of the coaches for the Joplin Eagles. As sad as this is, I would not take this experience from him for one second. God’s hand was truly involved in everything.
Vicki it is really great to hear from you and I appreciate you sharing this. I agree, even as I type this I am tearing up and I really don’t like to be sad but the good that has come from it in terms of watching people care for one another has touched a lot of hearts and that is at least good for something. He never said it would be easy, but he did say he would always be there through it all. 🙂 Thanks for reading. Tell your son that I am grateful for what he does for our kids at JHS.
This was simply beautiful. I am a family friend. Tears just rolled down my face reading this.
Didn’t mean to make you cry Kathy but I am really glad you liked what I wrote. I keep telling people that it took me almost four hours to finish it because I had to keep stopping for cry sessions. Please pass along my condolences to the family, my heart breaks for them.
Mark I’m sitting at a conference with hundreds of people crying right now, (Thanks!). Great read. I’m proud of the Eagles and the Cardinals. #63
I feel you Keenan! Sorry about that but glad you got something from it. I’m proud of them also, such a great group of people. I appreciate your comments and friendship!!! If anyone asks why you are crying, just forward them the link and they will understand. That story is hard not to feel in a deep way!
God is usually hanging around this time he played a game of football while he was there I hear he had a jersey on that said 63 has on his jersey he didn’t cry but he is still smiling love high School football Friday night lights and now there is a special Saturday night lights that can never be turned off God bless Joplin and every young man wearing a football helmet hugs
Great comments Paul…thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts.
Wow. What an incredible story of how God works in mysterious ways. I’m sure KRD had a hand in this win. He was watching from his perch in heaven.
Im Kadin’s Uncle Kenny. And I just wanted to let you know that I’ve never seen so much LOVE in my life! I was Kadin and his brother Kaian’s Church Youth leaders when they lived in Festus and I’m very proud to say God has one of the Best Angel’s to watch over all of his friends and family. My family thanks you from the bottom of our hearts for sharing this. And for the Love?
Kenny, I was really hoping that this would make it’s way to Kadin’s family, so thank you for sending me a note. So sorry for your loss, I am praying for Kadin and for your family. I wanted this blog to do Kadin’s story justice so I am so grateful that you liked it. Being at that game and seeing God’s love pour out of so many in honor of Kadin is something I will cherish the rest of my life. It says a lot about that boy! Love and peace to you and your family!
This is an incredible story and thank you for sharing. I do believe God was watching over and will always continue to be there for us when we need him the most. I love how the communities came together and I know the family will cherish this forever. Thank you for honoring his memory.
I was very happy to share Michelle, thanks for reading and for your very nice comments. Hope you are doing well!
I am Kadin’s great aunt and is so comforting to know that my niece lives in a community that has embraced her and her family and showed them so much love. I don’t think this would happen any place else in America. Thank You Joplin and the surrounding communities. The article will always remain in my heart as a reminder that people really aree good. God bless
Thank you Norma for making this comment. I am so happy that the blog post will be something good for you to reflect on. THANK YOU for sharing and we are all so sorry for your loss.
Mark- simply beautiful. Thank you fit so eloquently telling the story of what we are all feeling. My middle son was there with Kadin, he was friends with Kadin and is friends with his twin. All the hurts in an undeniably awful way. For those that weren’t as well acquainted feel the hurt as well and it’s crushing the thought of the loss of such a bright, shining young man.
Webb City Community really did step up in a huge way to support the loss of our Joplin Community.
We have an Angel no doubt and I’m one of the others as well.❤️
Thanks for reading Kristin and for the nice comment. This stuff is never easy!
This is just beautiful! I am proud so proud of the Joplin Eagles, Webb City Cardinals and all surrounding area schools, football teams and communities for such great support! #KRD #63
Powerful story Mark. Thanks for sharing and I’ll be sure to pass it on.
Thanks for reading Paul and I’m glad it is “share worthy” 🙂 Have a great weekend.