An Athlete's Death

This Just In

Like most of you, I rarely read page seven of The Crimson: Page of afterthoughts. Page of ads.

Last Thursday I did. There--in the back of the paper--the story of Jarrett Romanski, an incoming freshman fullback who died over spring--break.

A chill overcame me.

Today, one week later I am still chilled, "like a cold water among broken reeds," as the poet Edward Thomas said.

Eighteen year-old kid, headed for Harvard, dies by electrocution on spring break. Grabbed a pole to hoist his 6'2," 215-pound frame out of a jacuzzi. The pole--I don't know why--was electrified. It never should have been.

This should not have been.

Romanski was a popular, three sport athlete at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois, just north of Chicago. In addition to football, he excelled at track and rowed crew.

This year, when Loyola's star running back went down with an injury, Romanski stepped in--though he normally punted and played linebacker.

He scored the winning touchdown in the first round of the high school playoffs against Evanston, and led his team to the semifinal against Libertyville.

A season-ending injury forced him out in the first-half. Loyola, however, went on to win the Illinois State Championship.

In school, Romanski was an honor roll student with a wry, irreverent wit, which made him extremely popular.

"He came here and he was just one of those kids you can't help but like," Father Raymond Callahan, Loyola's headmaster, said.

"It was just a pleasure to have him around. You know, kids describe him as almost a father figure, the way he cared for others. They looked up to him and respected him. He just had a way about him that he could encourage, help others find the best in themselves."

So why? Why did he have to die in this season of life?

"I don't know. I don't think I have an answer for that," Father Callahan said. "In speaking with his mother, Jarrett did talk about death and his own view was that when a man's time comes, a man's time comes. That was the way he looked at it--and that's sort of the way she accepted it."

I don't think his time had come--he had just turned 18 on March 6. Saturday, they buried him at St. Joseph's cemetery. Sometimes I wonder how God lives with himself.

"It's heartbreaking. Absolutely tragic. There's no other way to describe it," Harvard football coach Tim Murphy said. "He was extraordinary in a lot of ways. He was one of those kids you wanted on your football team more for his personality than for his ability."

"How do you reconcile it? How can you explain something like this? Ultimately, you can't. It's a tragedy--and you selfishly hope it never happens to yourself or your family."

Matthew 24:36: But of that day and hour knoweth on man, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Or as the poet Richard Eberhart put it: "God does not live to explain."

Justin P. Ingersoll is a senior Crimson sports writer living in North House.