Hearing the final moans of the Easley crowd behind me, I jogged onto the field after the Green Wave’s 7-6 loss to Seneca Friday night.
Easley football fans had just seen their team miss a 42-yard field goal that would have won the game, and needless to say, the atmosphere was a little bleak.
After every game, you always (for the most part) see two gracious teams’ showing support for one another by shaking hands and exchanging congratulations.
More than a few Easley players and coaches walked with their heads down, not wanting to face the reality of what just happened, but not too long after the final buzzer, something cool happened.
Players began to gather in a circle and (from my experience as a high school football player) I could tell what was about to happen. The players were huddling to have a word of prayer. Not just a few players, but both teams.
Coaches joined in, creating the final layer of the circle that was already filled in with players from both teams touching shoulder pads.
With everyone finally gathered, a Seneca player stood among crowd who had just been gunning for each other’s’ heads 10 minutes earlier and lead the teams in prayer.
This gesture wasn’t foreign for me. I had bowed with my team a million times during my years as a high school football player. We said the Lord’s Prayer before heading out of the locker room and we knelt on the field after the game was over.
It was something our coaches demanded of us.
It was a sign of our gratefulness.
For folks in Pickens County, however, gestures like this may be a sight for sore eyes. Earlier this year, The Pickens County School Board voted to do away with student led prayer before monthly meetings. The decision came after a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened a lawsuit if nothing changed about the policy.
Despite outcry from numerous Pickens County residents, the board voted to continue with prayer before meetings, adhering to a non-sectarian style prayer led by board members.
Many in the community were disgusted with the decision, voicing their opinions during an open public forum.
A Liberty High senior even received national attention after voicing the Lord ’s Prayer during his Valedictorian speech.
The speech, which received raving cheers from Liberty High parents and graduation attendees, was met again with the question of whether it was okay or not to pray in public settings.
On Friday night, I think that question was answered.
Easley players and coaches may have been bummed about the loss, but they were still willing to gather to show respect. They still wanted to express their gratitude.
If you still harbor bitter feelings about the school board’s decision to turn away from a sectarian-style prayer, be encouraged by Friday night’s example.
Prayer is still taking place in schools, even if you think it’s not.