SI Vault
 
Frank Hall, AMERICAN HERO
GARY SMITH
June 24, 2013
In February 2012 a beloved football assistant faced down a killer in the midst of a school shooting. His courage that day saved lives and earned him the undying gratitude of his community. But while he and the town were changed forever, the culture of gun violence was not. Do you remember Chardon, Ohio?
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
June 24, 2013

Frank Hall, American Hero

In February 2012 a beloved football assistant faced down a killer in the midst of a school shooting. His courage that day saved lives and earned him the undying gratitude of his community. But while he and the town were changed forever, the culture of gun violence was not. Do you remember Chardon, Ohio?

View CoverRead All Articles

It's the story about the kid who pulls out a semiautomatic weapon in school and starts blowing away the students sitting near him, only this kid has a 6'1", 350-pound football coach—a former all-state tackle and the sixth-best heavyweight wrestler in Ohio in 1992—standing 25 yards away.

Stop me, please, for it was all over the news for, well, at least 24 hours, one of those stories that sticks to the walls of everyone's heart, unless....

Stop me, for it was only last year that it occurred, in a little town named Chardon, about 30 miles east of Cleveland....

Stop me, now, because otherwise that means you too have already forgotten, and God knows how many more coaches and teachers and principals will have to make the terrible decision that Frank Hall made that winter day at 7:37 a.m.... and God knows how few will make it.

HE PULLED INTO the school parking lot at 6:15 that Monday morning—Feb. 27, 2012—and hoisted himself out of the little red Chevy Aveo that left all the players and coaches at Chardon High racked by a riddle of physics: So ... does someone pour you into it through a sunroof, Coach?

He lowered himself into his seat at the front of the cafeteria, where he spent each day monitoring study halls and lunch until football practice or weight workouts began.

"Something wrong?" wondered the head football coach, Mitch Hewitt, puzzled to see his 38-year-old offensive coordinator's big baby face and crew cut that early.

"Nope," said Frank, "just ..."

... living the dream, Mitch and the entire football team could've chorused, they'd heard Frank say it so many times. Just showing up 45 minutes early to develop another play for Chardon's spread wing-T offense, diagramming a deep play-action pass that would make an opposing safety regret following Chardon's slot receiver in motion.

The cafeteria began filling at 7:05—70 students filing in for first-period study hall, 30 from Mr. Armelli's health class who came for the morning announcements because their classroom trailer outside had no TV monitor, and two dozen more awaiting a bus that would shuttle them to alternative schools nearby.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10