ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY (WSLS 10) – Few players leave the kind of mark on a program where not only is their number retired, but their locker as well.
At Rockbridge County, when players gear up for the field, they’re reminded of a former student who gave it all for their freedom.
On a piece of tape at the top of a corner locker in the boy’s locker room is “#17 C. Prasnicki.”
Under a Rockbridge County High School football helmet hangs a jersey with his old number, but more importantly the title Chase Prasnicki died defending, First Lieutenant.
Before enlisting in the U.S. Army, Prasnicki defended the Wildcats’ winning record on Friday nights as quarterback.
“Everything Chase ever did in his life he was great at,” explained Chase’s former coach, Jason White. “If there was one or two qualities that stand out the most about Chase Prasnicki, it was his leadership and his character. He was just one of the hardest working kids, probably one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever coached. “
Those are qualities new football staff want current players to aspire to, so when defensive line coach Donnie Perkins learned many of the players and students had never heard of Prasnicki and his sacrifice, he had an idea.
“A lot of them I don’t think they actually knew what was going on at first, we were kind of cutting and drilling in on the locker, but I think it got them asking questions and when we started telling Chase’s story they started listening and they started asking more questions,” Perkins said.
After the cutting and drilling, plexiglass protects his jersey, pants, and cleats, so right next to the player’s lockers is a reminder of sacrifice and commitment.
“What a powerful message to send every kid, not just football players, but every student athlete and student at Rockbridge County High School to walk through that locker room and just see that locker, it’s amazing,” White said.
“You could not ask for a better role model for what he did for this community and what he did for his country, so we’re trying to instill those values. Football in the grand scheme of things is just a small part of life,” said Perkins.
As the Wildcats kick off a new season students have the freedom to play thanks in part to number 17.