Fort Myers | When high school football teams play in the state of Florida, it is serious business and injuries are common; it is the nature of a sport in which the players slam into each other with great force.
During the Sept. 7 game between Bishop Verot Catholic High School in Fort Myers and Lakeland Christian High School, an injury happened to Lakeland quarterback Ryan Overstreet. His leg was broken, his season was over.
All of the players on the field knew the seriousness of the injury and when the game concluded, Ryan explained how one of the worst moments in his young life became one of the best. After the game, he watched from his sideline as the teams shook hands.
“When the game was over and I was standing on crutches with my head down, the entire Bishop Verot football team and staff came over,” Ryan described the moment on social media. “Every one of them shook my hand, gave me a hug, and told me how sorry they were that this happened. They told me to keep my head up and that I would go on to do big things in high school and college. The best part was when they asked if they could pray with me. It was pretty amazing what they did for me and I can’t say thank you enough to them.”
“We just wanted to let him know that he could come back, that he wasn’t defeated,” Viking Alex Crouch told a local TV station which ran a story about this positive moment in these troubled times. “We just thought we would help pick up his spirits that day.”
A photo of the moment the Verot players and coaches surrounded Ryan in prayer was captured by a parent in the stands. The Diocese of Venice Communications Office posted the photo on the Diocesan Facebook page, with nearly 6,000 “page views” in the first 10 days.
Ryan’s mother, Anita, saw the image and commented, “These amazing young men took the darkest moment of his life and literally turned it into the very best. His leg was broken and he knew his season has just ended. He will heal and his emotional pain will surely fade. But I can tell you that he, nor his dad and I, will ever forget that very moment and what this team did for him. Thank you does not even come close, but please know how very grateful we are for such an incredible act of love toward our son.”
Dr. Ben Moore, Diocese Superintendent of Catholic education, sent a note to Anita Overstreet and expressed his prayers that Ryan makes a complete recovery. Moore noted that he was also moved by Ryan’s example, saying Anita should be proud of her son and the character he is exhibiting through this difficult time.
“I am obviously so proud of the Verot team for setting aside the competition to pray for Ryan,” Moore added. “The maturity of their behavior is such a sobering example for all of us.”
Anita Overstreet wrote to Moore and said the family has been overwhelmed by the support and prayers that have been extended. “It gives us confirmation that God is certainly in control of this situation and Ryan is going to be OK.”
Bishop Verot won the game 17-10.