Chauncey Kinlow had no chance of quitting the Thomson football team. His teammates made sure of that in the days after the sophomore defensive lineman lost his father, Sgt. James Kinlow, to a roadside bomb while on patrol in Iraq.
But an unexpected show of support came in the form of the Lincoln County Red Devils. Before last Friday's scrimmage, the entire Red Devils team signed a football and presented it to Chauncey.
Chauncey Kinlow watches the action against Lincoln County last Friday.
"It made me feel good to show that I had support on the other side," Chauncey said. "I know a lot of people that played, and it showed that they were there for me too."
Sgt. Kinlow, a 1988 graduate of Lincoln County High School, moved to Thomson nearly a decade ago. The Lincoln County players wanted to make sure that Chauncey - their fellow gridiron warrior - knew they felt the pain of his loss with him.
"I thought that was such a classy gesture by the Lincoln County team to present that ball to Chauncey," said Thomson Defensive Coordinator John Barnett. "That meant a lot to me, and I'm sure it meant a lot to all of them."
The Lincoln County coaching staff and players decided to make the presentation because of the many connections between Sgt. Kinlow's family in Thomson as well as in their community.
"Coach Campbell knew him and thought a lot of him," Coach Barnett said. "It was a great gesture."
Despite the difficulty of dealing with the death of a teammate's father, Coach Barnett thinks the players have pulled together and remained intent on improving as a team.
"I think the kids are pretty focused, despite the terrible tragedy we've had in this community," he said. "But their thoughts and prayers are still with (Chauncey)."
And the show of support for the Kinlow family from Chauncey's teammates was a huge lift to his spirits, his mother Daphanie said. Chauncey's Teammate Phillip Bonner was one of many who stopped by the house in the days after Sgt. Kinlow's death.
"He told Chauncey, 'I'll be there. I'm going to be there for you. I'll be there at the funeral. I'll be there at school. I'll be there at practice. Your daddy is a hero to me,'" Mrs. Kinlow told The Mirror shortly after her husband's death.
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