As winter storm Jonas ravaged the east coast, the Wheelersburg Community felt the tragedy up close and personal as high-school student and soccer player Ethan Pauley lost his life in a sledding accident.
Since the tragedy, schools throughout Scioto County have stepped up and honored Pauley in various ways. The Notre Dame Titans were the latest school to honor Pauley’s member and the Wheelersburg community as the Titan players wore orange jump suits in pregame warmups and encouraged their fans to participate in an “orange out,” by wearing orange clothing to Friday night’s game against the visiting Western Indians.
“Anytime a young man who has his whole life in front of him, and to have it cut short, it’s a real tragedy,” Notre Dame athletic director and head boys basketball coach Matt Mader said. “The community here at Notre Dame and all over Scioto County has been showing their support for him and his family through a terrible time. It’s just sad to see a child lose his life at an early age.
“These events are secondary to people and life, and how important it is to recognize that. We’re here to offer our support and help with whatever they need.”
Mader said Notre Dame Principal Kathy Milligan and the school’s developmental office was instrumental in arranging the details for the tribute.
“They had a lot to do with implementing this tribute, and spreading the word and support,” Mader said. “It’s not like it use to be, a lot of our kids were friends with him, really knew him and were close to him.”
Wheelersburg head basketball coach Steven Ater has been overwhelmed by the support shown for Pauley.
“It’s a tremendous show of support,” Ater said. “It shows a lot of character from the people and the student athletes in the community. The coaching staffs and the administrations involved to care enough about our community and the Pauley family, I think it’s very classy.
“It would be easy for other people to say, ‘Well it’s a tragedy that happened but it didn’t happen to our kid.’ But the love and support that has been shown to the Wheelersburg community, it means a lot and even though sometimes athletic competition may create rivalries, it still show that people care about the human spirit more than that.”
The showing of support by Notre Dame and the rest of Scioto County is something to be expected during a tragic event.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Ater said. “I guess it’s shocking to see because you don’t see that all the time, but when there is a tragedy, it draws people closer together and breaks down barriers. That’s really an awesome thing to see and be a part of. You wish it didn’t have to take a tragedy but the public support from all of the local communities has been tremendous.
“I think our kids here, going through the healing process and the grief, it’s important they know that other people outside our community care about them and are thinking about them, keeping us in their prayers. That’s all very important for the process.”
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.