Preseason Report 08.16: Ole Miss Hosts Crash Victims' Children

By Dylan Edwards,

OXFORD, Miss. - Football, in the grand scheme of life, is just a game. It becomes more apparent when a tragedy befalls a community like Oxford experienced this week. However, it also highlights what makes football and sports so great: they provide a temporary escape for those that desperately need them.

The Rebel football team had several special guests on Tuesday in an attempt to provide that escape, as brief as it may be. Some of the Oxford children who lost their parents in the Sunday morning plane crash were at the Rebels' practice.

"Man, the hurt that I feel for those families," Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. "I went home and spent some time with my kids. I just can't imagine. You search for answers, and you're just at a total loss for words. I know the Oxford community, though, because I've lived here five years now, and three before. I know that they will rally. I know that we're going to do our part in helping these young kids have a future that is secure."

For a little while, the boys and girls who went through so much this weekend got to act like kids again. They went through drills and interacted with Ole Miss players that aren't really that much older than them.

"I couldn't even think about life without my parents," noted Ole Miss defensive back Montrell Custis. "For them to go through something like that and see them smiling the next day, it just puts a smile on my face. They are part of our family. Whatever happened with them, we bring them to our family and love each other and stay together."

What was obvious to anyone is just how strong and resilient the kids were to still be functioning after something so sudden and awful.

"We went up after practice signing footballs and having conversations about them playing baseball," sophomore Sean Rawlings said. "It's sad, and it makes you appreciate life a little more and how strong these kids really are to be out here smiling and trying to make the best of the moment."

When they were running routes and catching passes from Chad Kelly, they were just kids again. And that's what makes football so special.

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