FNF: Southern Boone senior embraces football family in face of tremendous loss
ASHLAND - Life can change in the blink of an eye. Few know that better than Southern Boone High School senior Colin Vaughan.
Vaughan is a three sport athlete at Southern Boone, playing football, basketball and baseball. Last season he amassed over 500 yards as a receiver on the football team and tallied seven total touchdowns on an Eagles team that made some noise in the 2015 district playoffs.
However, during his junior baseball season, Vaughan suffered a loss bigger than any game.
"At the end of March my father passed away from a sudden accident, and it was really hard on me, my family, the coaches and the players," Vaughan said. "We were all close to my dad. It was hard on all of us. Me and my dad were close. We talked about everything together. He was the nicest guy. Everyone loved him. He was always there and was the best dad I could ask for."
It was in the wake of that tragedy, Vaughan's teammates and coaches filled a new role in his life.
"It's a family," Southern Boone head football coach Trent Tracy said. "Families have you when things are good and when things are bad. From the time these bad things started happening to him he's had a great support staff of coaches, community members and teammates that have been there and helped pick him up during these tough times."
"We were definitely a close-knit unit before all the stuff with Colin, but he brought us even closer, which is good for the team and I think helps him out, too," Southern Boone quarterback Spencer Taggart said.
"These guys are my family," Vaughan said. "They're all like my brothers. They've been with me through everything. When my father passed they were all right there for me. I actually had a few of them meet me the night it happened and sat with me 'til my mom got home."
The loss of his father wasn't the only adversity Vaughan has had to face in the last six months.
The senior tore his patella tendon in his left knee at the end of his junior year and was working back to be ready for the Eagles' upcoming season. Then he suffered a torn ACL and torn patella tendon in his right knee during Southern Boone's preseason scrimmage, sidelining him for the entirety of his senior football season.
The blow weighed heavily on Vaughan at first.
"You see people tear stuff all the time, and you never think it's going to happen to you," Vaughan said. "I thought about my senior season. I was looking so forward to it, and I felt it slip through my fingers."
Tracy said it didn't take long for Vaughan to show his resolve.
"Quickly he was really confident, and it's hard to be confident in those situations," Tracy said. "He was told that his football career was over, in high school at least. The way he dealt with that really taught me how to deal with things that don't go our way in life, and I was just really impressed that an 18-year-old kid could still stay positive when the world was really negative to him."
Although he may not have been able to impact his team on the field, Vaughan has taken a new role off of it.
You can find him on the sidelines at Southern Boone games and practices, acting as an interim/volunteer coach.
Vaughan said the role change has made him see football, and his teammates in a new light.
"I feel like I've gotten closer to everyone," Vaughan said. "Having to go out there and watch them play has helped me look at everything from a different standpoint."
"He was a major player last year, and now he's using his abilities he had on the field to help coach us," Taggart said. "He's pretty much another coach for us. It's awesome."
He also said seeing his teaching show on the field is a new form of excitement for the receiver.
"It's actually worked a few times and we've gotten a couple touchdowns off of it [my ideas], and it makes me pretty happy to have an impact and help the team," Vaughan said. "It's nice to help the team without being out there."
Looking back on it all, Vaughan knows this rough stretch will impact him as he makes his way in the world.
"I think this has made me a stronger person," Vaughan said. "It's been tough on me, my family and everyone, but I think I've learned a lot of life lessons. Value the small things, getting up and being able to walk to use the bathroom, all the times spent with the people we love. It can all be gone in a second, just like my season was gone, like my father was gone. It makes you cherish those moments you don't normally think about."
Vaughan is hoping to be healthy and contribute for a least a part of the upcoming Southern Boone basketball season.