A very nice story from the Dallas Morning News:
Don’t underestimate the power of prayer.
Last Thursday night, during a junior varsity game in Waxahachie, it brought together fans of one of the most heated football rivalries in the state and, many feel, helped lift a fallen player.
In a grudge match that dates to 1908, there’s little love lost between the Waxahachie Indians and the Ennis Lions.
The two schools proudly boast of the “Battle of 287,” a reference to the highway that runs through the Ellis County towns.
But when a Waxahachie player was knocked cold in a violent fourth-quarter collision, something special happened at Lumpkin Stadium.
People began praying. They prayed in the stands and on the field. They prayed as paramedics and trainers dutifully attended to the player, who lay motionless.
And they were still praying, an hour later, when 17-year-old Triston Seth Simpler was placed on a gurney and loaded into an ambulance.
Then came what some called the most touching act of sportsmanship they had ever witnessed:
The whole green-and-white-clad Waxahachie team and staff went to midfield to pray. The entire maroon-and-white Ennis team and staff joined them. Fans from both sides fell on their knees, too.
“I had chills run up and down my spine knowing that God was working in this place,” said Mike Moore, whose daughter is a Waxahachie cheerleader. “As a Christian, I have to tell you, it was awe-inspiring.”
Triston’s surrogate mom, Gina Lawrence, said she was “humbled” by the experience.
“I was kind of unaware of what was going on around us,” she said.
Later, at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, where Triston was taken, friends showed Lawrence pictures of the two teams uniting in prayer.
“We were just amazed,” she said. “People we didn’t even know were coming together praying for Triston.”
With less than a quarter remaining, and his team trailing 35-21, Triston was zeroing in on an Ennis running back. The back eluded him, and Triston collided with a teammate.
As Triston lay injured, the game was officially called with a few minutes remaining.
Lawrence, who rode in the ambulance with Triston, said “he began responding to simple questions but he had no memory. The last thing he remembered was me taking him to get food before the game.”
The 6-foot, 220-pound defensive lineman was not aware that his archrivals kept praying for him long after the stadium emptied and the lights dimmed.
The next day, those prayers were answered: Doctors determined that Triston had suffered a concussion. Under the circumstances, that was good news.
“It was a long night,” said Lawrence. “But we just felt so fortunate. It looked so much worse.”
Triston was released from the hospital Friday afternoon.
“I really feel like God’s hand was in on this,” Lawrence said.
So does Triston.
“When I first woke up,” he said, “I could move my hands and I thought I was moving my legs, but I couldn’t move my legs.”
Then he learned of the two teams gathering in one big huddle.
“It made me feel good that two hated teams can put away the rivalry for a bit to pray for someone who’s really hurt,” he said.
“That night that it happened, the [varsity’s] starting running back and quarterback from Ennis contacted me and told me they had me in their prayers. That’s not something you see between Waxahachie and Ennis.”
On Friday night, just hours after he was released, Triston was on hand to see Waxahachie’s varsity defeat Ennis 16-0 at Lion Memorial Stadium.
He was still in pain, but “there was no way he was missing it,” Lawrence said.
Her son Patrick helps anchor the varsity team. The 6-foot-6, 235-pound offensive tackle and Triston have been friends for a couple of years.
Triston moved in with the family more than a year ago, Gina Lawrence said. She calls him her “adopted son.”
Triston said he’d been eager to suit up for the varsity team during its upcoming playoff run, but now he’ll have to wait until next season.
God willing, Triston won’t stop playing football, Gina Lawrence said. Another practice won’t end, either.
“We go to church every Sunday,” she said. “And he goes to youth group every Wednesday.”