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Linfield head coach Joe Smith's letter to his fallen player

Linfield football

As Saturday night turned into Sunday morning last week, Linfield College sophomore football player Parker Moore was stabbed to death in a random act of violence at a 7-Eleven across the street from the McMinnville, Ore., campus. The slaying has rocked Linfield's football program, campus and community.

As each person has tried to make sense of this senseless act in his or her own way, Linfield head coach Joe Smith penned a long, heartfelt letter remember Moore and mourning his loss. The letter was originally published on the Linfield football alumni group's blog, and republished here with their permission.

Dear Catdome Family,

The past few days have been the most difficult of my life, and certainly the most trying and painful period our program has experienced. It has ripped our hearts out. I believe the greatest strength of our program is its closeness. This truly is a family. It is pillar number 1. We say Family, we break huddles to Family, it’s written in the locker room; but it is more than words. We actually live Family. It is the single greatest characteristic that makes our program what it is. It’s Thor’s hammer; it’s Sampson’s Hair.

It is also what has made this so painful for all of us. Not only is each member of our team hurting personally, but they have to see the hurt in their fellow teammate’s eyes and the pain is doubled. A former Wildcat just a few years out, wrote to me “I never had the pleasure of meeting Parker, but that doesn’t matter, once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat. If one is hurting, we all are hurting, if one of us is in need we pick each other up.”

I could not agree more. It has been very hard, but that very sentiment shared to me is helping our program process, embrace, and eventually grow from our loss of Parker.

The incredible outpouring of love and support from hundreds of former players, supporters, as well as so many people from the McMinnville community is overwhelming. Businesses and many churches in town have sent their support, many sending incredible letters and wishes. Driving home past the reader board at Walgreens last night, I had to pull over as I found that so powerful and impacting. All of this outpouring is humbling and has truly helped our students and staff. On behalf of our program I want to publically thank you all.

I have to agree with sentiment that in the midst of tragedy is when you find out what you are made of. Saturday night at that 7 Eleven I was able to witness first-hand the finest police officers and paramedics one could want, perform in their darkest moment. The way in which they handled the scene was impressive to me. They were professional and yet compassionate. I applaud them for what they do, and I am in their debt. Thank you. The officers and paramedics that tried to save Parker’s life on that floor, in the ambulance, and in the helicopter; thank you. To the Mac PD officers that physically stood between Parker and evil, thank you for protecting ALL in that 7 Eleven. You are heroic to me.

The way in which Linfield has come together to show solidarity and support has given me a renewed hope for this generation. Just when I think my kids can only live digitally, these young men and women showed so much compassion and insight that I was taken aback. I am so proud of our students here. The memorial fence is a testament to the caring and insight and yes, wisdom, that our young adults here possess. I am so proud of Linfield and our students.

The way that colleges all around the country have reached out and expressed their condolences, letting us know we are in their thoughts and prayers, has really helped our team. Many high schools throughout Oregon and the NW have reached out as well. Thank you.

The Northwest Conference has particularly struck a chord with our team, as the support from our fiercest competitors made a difference for us. Each program in our conference reached out to me personally, some even going further, such as Pacific’s image they posted, Lewis and Clark’s picture of their team honoring Parker, and Whitman’s candlelight vigil. Chapman specifically honored Parker, as is Wesley with a moment of silence planned for their playoff game. To all I say, “thank you”.

The way that Parker Moore lived his life is a testament to his faith and his upbringing. There is no doubt that the Moore family raised an incredible young man. The impact he has had on our campus is what has made his loss so unbearably great. He was a young man that transcended social barriers because of his genuine love and concern for others. In many ways Parker was the total package. I really do believe he embodied all that is good at Linfield, and all that we strive for men in our program to become. A consummate teammate. Team first at all cost. A man of character, his word was his bond. A man of action. He was a worker that loved the grind. Teddy Roosevelt was writing about Parker when he penned the “man in the arena”. A true leader. Some people are born with a magnetic personality and strength of personality that draws people to them. Parker was that man. From a young age I know he exhibited that. What made him a true leader was his compassion and caring for people. His middle school math teacher, Ryan Adams, wrote a letter that portrays Parker EXACTLY as the image I have in my mind of what I believe Parker would have been like at that age. A young man that cared more about others more than himself.

Now besides being a man of action, Parker could talk. That is for sure, and he was funny. He had that gift of timely wit, and knowing when a nickname would stick, and ride it. Since he cared about people, he got people. He knew what would be funny, what would interest others, and would go with it. His positivity was contagious. Our team will miss that smile and that positive humor and spirit more than I can write. Many have described Parker as a light on campus, and I sure agree with that.

Many around our campus have celebrated the well roundedness and compassion of Parker, and that is so true. However, make no mistake about it, Parker was a linebacker. When he sat in my office with his father contemplating colleges, he asked what we thought about him. I told him, “you are a football player Parker, and you are our kind of man. We want you.” He was created to enjoy physical combat, it was in his DNA. Parker could run and hit. And he loved it. Parker loved to compete, especially if he could hit something while competing. Parker embodied the compassionate warrior that so many of our players strive to be. He was STRONG in ALL the best ways.

Parker Moore is the young man that every father wants their son to grow up to be. I am so proud of him. The example he has given this team, this college, and hopefully all who read about him, will live on in all the young men who come through this program. As Lucas Jepson wrote to our team, “Parker Moore is not gone, he’s with us all every step we take. He will be making sure we all represent that Linfield L to the fullest with every step and every moment we encounter. It’s a chance to rise up and be leaders and change a life.” I know that the young men on this team will use Parker as an example to live up to, and will be better men from having known him. I know that will have a ripple effect in our communities and world, and Parker will have made a larger impact than he could imagine. Our coaches will ensure that every future player gets to know Parker and what he stood for.

I know Parker loved our football field, and it was clearly a favorite place of his. Parker was a strong man of faith. As hundreds stood on the L in the middle of our field last night at our student led candlelight vigil, I could not help but realize our Parker was at his new favorite place, watching down on his school brought together as one. I know he has heard the words “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

I love you, Parker.

Coach Smith