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"He was more than a coach to them," Chad Colliflower said. "I don't think they would have won the championship if it hadn't been for the accident. There was something greater going on."
Lewis, Warrenfeltz's longtime friend, is a jokester, but not on this subject. "After Brendon's accident, these parents just wanted to hold their kids," he said. "To put their kids in the hands of a 25-year-old?" He paused. "If I were a parent, I would want my kid grieving through me. But these parents relinquished their kids to David."
As for Warrenfeltz, it remained hard for him to talk about, just as it was still hard to talk about Adenhart. On this afternoon he took a visitor for a drive. It was warm and muggy, and the AC was going full blast. He passed Byers Market, the LIVE BAIT signs in the window, and Smitty's Williamsport Creamery, where Zach still got free ice cream. Warrenfeltz reached the river, then turned around and headed back, past the cemetery. Only then, after 20 minutes, did he open up.
He said he sometimes went jogging and ended up at the cemetery, and one time he stopped to look at Nick's and Brendon's graves, just across the slope from each other. Noticing something unusual, he began to walk off the distance between the two. It was almost exactly 60 feet.
He talked about how there was no end point to his grief, about what he said to the team. "You don't need to feel like you need to ever get over it," he said, "because it's something that we have no answer for, a situation that is so tragic and so close to you, it changes the person that you are and the way that you view the world, not necessarily in a bad way. I got a lot of strength from watching Nick's family. At some point you have to go back to living your life and chasing your dreams and doing the things that are good for you."
That's what Warrenfeltz himself was trying to do. He was hoping to raise enough money to redo the press box and put in a proper set of bleachers. When he first took the coaching job at Williamsport, some of his friends were surprised. "Don't you want to be a college coach?" asked Lewis. "Don't you want to move up the ladder?" But Warrenfeltz didn't understand this thinking. In October 2010 he took Stephanie out to dinner in Baltimore, and the two walked from the Inner Harbor up to Federal Hill. Looking out across the city, he turned to her. "Are you all right being with someone who's going to be a high school coach for the next 30 years?" he asked.
She looked at him, surprised by the question. "Yes," she said. Moments later, when he produced a small diamond ring from the pocket of his Williamsport High baseball jacket, she said it again.
In the meantime he will be here, where he ended up after a half-hour drive, where he always ends up: at the Williamsport High diamond. There on the fence was the photo of Nick, and next to it a photo of Brendon and Sam in their prom outfits, and metal placards with Brendon's and Adenhart's numbers. And, over in the cage, even though it was summer, Colby Byers was hitting off a tee, crushing balls into the netting. Next to him, his father sat on a plastic bucket, sweating in the heat. After each of his son's swings, he picked up another ball and placed it on the tee. And this is how it continues: One disappears, another takes its place.