The impact Chase White had at Desert Vista High School belies the amount of time he actually spent time roaming the halls, putting on a Thunder football jersey and being president of his class.
The news of his death on March 25 rocked the school and he is still being honored and remembered: the Desert Vista student section’s weekly theme at the football game this Friday is to wear purple clothing, White’s favorite color.
The student section for this week’s opponent, Dobson, agreed to wear purple as well, and Thunder rival, Mountain Pointe, will also show respect by having its student section wear purple. Neighboring school Corona del Sol also decided to go with purple for this week's theme.
“That is so great, and a special thing they are doing,” Thunder coach Dan Hinds said. “We are going to do everything we can to remember Chase.”
White, 14, had flu-like symptoms come and go for a few months before his mother, Carolyn, found him in his bedroom unresponsive and cold to the touch.
"It's just an unbearable pain," Carolynn White told ABC 15 of her son's death at the time. "You feel like a part of your heart’s been taken."
Carolyn White’s commitment to the Thunder football program continues after she accepted an invitation to attend Desert Vista’s preseason camp, and share some wisdom with her son’s former teammates, the coaching staff and the incoming freshmen class.
“His mother is a wonderful woman and came up to camp this year,” Hinds said. “When we kicked off our Big Brother program she helped us explain to the new kids how powerful that program is because Chase had a chance to see first hand how great that program can be.”
Hinds started the Big Brother program prior to the 2011 season when he recognized the several members of that senior class were not only great players on their way to a state title, but had great character and work ethic as well.
So he figured he’d align each of the upperclassmen, especially the seniors, with the incoming freshmen so they can automatically have someone to look up, ask questions to and learn as much as they could about what it means to pull that Desert Vista jersey over the shoulder pads and buckle up the golden helmet.
It’s how Thunder senior Joe Money met White prior to the 2015 season; they were partnered up in the fall of 2015.
“Usually it is the Big Brothers who are the ones who have to get to things going, but Chase White is someone who came to me more,” Money said. “He really showed his love for me and I then did it for him. It’s amazing the effect he had on people in a short period of time.”
The program has continued to progress and flourish as each freshmen class rolls through the program to become seniors trying to repay the guidance, support and positive vibe they hopefully felt as freshmen.
“It’s a really good thing for Desert Vista,” Money said. “It allows us to get to know the younger kinds because we are probably not going to play with them. It’s a great way to learn about the program and each other.”
The kinship that develops between the older and younger classes can help in tough times as the Thunder (1-3) deal with the struggles that have plagued them to start the season.
“Everybody sees our record and thinks we are down on ourselves, but that’s when family comes together,” senior two-way lineman Myles Wilson said.
“When times are good, everyone is happy. Everyone is good. When times are hard that’s when you find out about yourself and who is going to stick it out with you.”
White would have been one of those players standing next to and up for his Thunder teammates.
“We talked in the hallways, and he’d even get me out of class sometimes,” Money said. “We’d talk about football, girls or school. He was a funny kid, and I always remember those moments.”
The whole team showed up for the funeral and proved to be another sign of the impact he, and the Big Brother program, has had at Desert Vista.
“When he passed away, and going to his funeral, it was amazing to see everyone was there,” Money said. “The whole team showed the love we have for him and the impact one person can have on so many people.
“The Little Brother/Big Brother program works and I’ll never forget Chase White and what he was able to do in his few months at DV and what he meant to me.”
– Contact Jason Skoda at 480-898-7915 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda.
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