BROOMFIELD — There was a moment of silence after Legacy's football practice on Monday night, the Lightning gathered around an emotional head coach Wayne Voorhees as he expressed his views on September 11, 2001 and how it has shaped a world those in front of him only can imagine used to be.

These kids, most of them born after the tragedy, will never truly know the horror of the day that the World Trade Center towers came crashing down. But, that's not to say the young men Vorhees was addressing didn't know tragedy at all.

In fact, it was just one year ago when the lives of many Lightning students and staff were shaken when they were involved in a bus crash at the Denver International Airport which claimed the life of the driver, Kari Chopper. The circumstances surrounding the crash itself remains a mystery to this day.

On Monday, Voorhees chose to bring up the accident that hit a little closer to home as part of his post-practice address — mainly driving home that you have to take advantage of every day that is given to you.

Voorhees and assistant coaches Matt Kroupa and Kyle Rider sure have tried, especially when it comes to showing their dedication to the players they have chosen to surround themselves with. Chopper's devastating death is the most obvious heartbreaking result, but the aforementioned three men were the most seriously injured in the crash otherwise. They are all still dealing with physical side effects, whether from the crash itself or from the surgeries that followed.


"We all think about things a little bit as a staff, but it's mostly because we're all still dealing with medical issues," Voorhees said after the practice, as Legacy (1-1) prepares for a game Friday at Prairie View. "I had an appointment today so I wasn't at school, and that stuff still lingers as we move forward.

"It definitely affects us as a staff, but at this point I don't really know how or if it is affecting the kids. I mean, they're young and they're resilient."

It would have been very easy for any one of them to quit coaching after what happened — I mean, these men are essentially volunteering their time for all intents and purposes.

But even from the first days after the accident, it was never about them. It was always about the kids. It was a sigh of relief to all of them that none of the players were seriously injured, and for the coaches it was crucial to get back out on the field as soon as was logical to show the kids an example of resilience that could be life-altering to some of them.

"All of us that were injured, we're all teachers and we love being around our students, and as coaches we love being around our players," Rider said. "When we were all coming to, I think the first things we wanted to know were how the kids were.

"We all take seriously the role we have of, we're here to make an impact and we're going to show them an example — if he's here and he just went through this, maybe it helps motivate them in some way."

There are likely a handful of players that think back on that accident thanking their lucky stars they didn't suffer any long-lasting injuries. For the most part, however, the players moved on soon after — even perhaps as soon as that very first game they played the Friday after, a win against very same Thunderhawks they'll be battling in a couple of days.

In the year since, though, the coaching staff certainly feels that it has grown together and used the situation to bring a positive light to life in general and on the football field.

"I think we moved on but I think we've all grown closer because of it," Rider said. "The kids that are here that were last year, they're closer to each other. Us as a coaching staff, we're a lot closer because of the events that happened and what we've been going through — we've been building off it in a positive manner. Build upon what's good in life and not what's down."

"We've had each other's backs since day one, but it's even more evident now," Voorhees said. "Even more, it's about the kids. Seeing them grow and develop and mature, that's what it's all about. That's why you keep doing this."

Adam Dunivan: or