By JOHN SCHWARB
© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 14, 2001
PINELLAS PARK -- Celia Jaroslawski expertly balanced the camcorder on her shoulder, careful to catch every moment of action. In a way, her son was on stage, a player in literally the only game in town.
Osceola and Pinellas Park played their scheduled football game Thursday night, the last county athletic event in an unforgettable week. Friday night games have been postponed to recognize a national day of prayer and remembrance (and with a nod to incoming weather), but one game was caught in the middle.
For the Warriors, Patriots and fans, it was an evening to play and cheer, if only for a short while.
"To be able to get an hour or two hours out there and feel like everything's okay is healthy for them," said Jaroslawski, mother of an Osceola player. "We cannot forget that these are kids."
The sights and sounds of the game were like any other Friday night, save a flag waving at half-staff behind an end zone. This game had no moment of silence -- there was no public address system to ask for one -- just the customary Star Spangled Banner from the home Pinellas Park band.
Just another game, albeit just two days after a dark moment in American history.
"What happened earlier this week takes your breath away," said Pinellas Park end Eric Jones, who sat out with an injury. "It was a tragedy, but life has to go on. I don't think it's disrespectful or a bad idea."
Fans cheered just as loudly, and cheerleading squads for both teams maintained their normal routines, though perhaps with a touch of sensitivity. Pinellas Park's pregame banner encouraged its players to simply "Wash the Warriors Away."
Like any other football game, an ambulance sat off to the side of the field, idling with lights off. Inside, Paul Savinsky and his partner took in all the emotions of the evening between the game and a television set tuned to the news.
"We've watched it pretty much all week, but it's kind of a release to be here and talk about it," Savinsky said.
Save the players and coaches on the field, talking about Tuesday for at least a moment was probably inevitable throughout Richard Allen Memorial Stadium. But in talking, some decided that football perhaps didn't matter so much after all.
"I think it's totally disrespectful," said Stuart Freeman, a Pinellas Park adviser working his shift in the concession stand. "This is just a horrible time in our country, and I don't think we should be playing games."
Yet for one night, a game went on.