PARMA, Ohio-- First-game jitters were replaced with heartfelt emotions for the Parma Senior High School Redmen Thursday night at Byers Field.
The football team faced Olmsted Falls, but before the first kick-off they stopped to remember one of their own: 16-year-old Sergey Pivovarnik.
The high school junior tragically drowned this past July while swimming in a pond on State Road after football practice.
The loss was hard on the team, coaches and greater Parma community.
“He had a dream of playing varsity football,” said Coach Bruce Saban. “We want to make sure we remember him the right way.”
According to Coach Saban, the players themselves decided how to honor Sergey at their season opener.
First the team captains carried his #5 jersey to the coin toss.
And then the entire stadium fell silent as the seniors joined the rest of the players and solemnly walked on to the field, two by two, arms locked behind the jersey with Sergey’s initials on their helmets.
“I mean I know he’s down here with us today,” said John Todd, Redmen team captain. ”Going to go out and play as hard as we can for him because we know if he had the chance, he would.”
Other friends organized a cheer section dedicated to Sergey in the stands and posted it on Twitter. Students from rival schools and graduates showed up wearing red t-shirts.
“He was like the best friend I ever had,” said Nicasio Agosto. “He was always in the best mood..never a time he was sad.”
And although the team lost the game, they said they will never give up because they are determine to keep Sergey's memory and dreams alive.