Team members left their own small tribute at the memorials.
By SHERRI L. SHAULIS
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
HUBBARD -- Each year, members of the Hubbard High School boys soccer team take time from their annual scrimmage trip to Bedford, Pa., to find a way to have fun and bond. This year, they also took time out to remember and learn.
The group of 25 boys, along with coach Rodney Lehman and a handful of parents, spent part of a weekend earlier this month visiting memorial sites in Somerset and Shanksville, Pa.
The memorials are dedicated to the nine miners who survived being trapped in a flooded mine for three days and to those who died in the Sept. 11 crash of Flight 93.
"Think about it," said Lehman, who takes the team for an annual scrimmage to Bedford because he grew up in that area. "These are two major current events that have taken place within the past 10 months. To be there is a little different than when you just see it on the news."
Lehman, who has coached the team for six seasons and also teaches elementary physical education, said he normally takes the team on some sort of "side trip" when they go to these scrimmages each year.
In past years, the trips included hayrides and mountain hikes. He said when he asked the team members if they would want to visit the memorial sites this year, they were all for it.
What youths said
Chris Styn, a junior on the team, said he came away from the visits with a more "real" feeling about the events.
"It was a different experience actually being there," he said. "It really doesn't feel like you are 'there' when you see it on TV, but when we got there, it seemed like we were part of it."
Senior Justin Daly said he was touched emotionally by this year's trip.
"You read all those messages and really start to feel for those families," he said. "When you get up close like that, you really think about what those families went through and what all of that means."
Nathan Cesene, a senior player, and junior Josh Petrusko said the fact that the visit involved such current history struck them the hardest.
"You feel more emotion than when you just see pictures of it," Petrusko said. "It makes a difference when you can get so close to something that just happened."
"You get more of an understanding of what all of that really meant," Cesene said. "You see everything people wrote, and people who visited those sites from all over the world and you can tell that people really care. You understand it more."
Lehman said in addition to visiting the sites, the team members left a little something of themselves behind: a Hubbard Eagles flag.
"They won't remember what their team record was 10 years from now," he said. "But this, seeing this history up close, that is something they will remember for the rest of their lives."