That work ethic has made Casey the person and the player he is, according to Ty Hunt, the head coach of Cardinal Ritter’s football team.
“I have an adage that when it’s time to go to work, roll up your sleeves so we can get things accomplished,” Hunt said. “Casey is one of those people I can count on to do that. Casey knows that God has blessed us with our talents, but when the time comes to put a little extra into it, you can achieve more when you do.”
Hunt also saw the connection between Casey and his mother.
“She recognized the things he had to overcome, and that he has overachieved,” Hunt said. “She wanted him to recognize that life is difficult, and that he would have to do things to overcome those times.”
Clinging to family, friends and faith
In the eight months since Shiela’s death, Casey’s father, John, has continued to be there for him. So have his two older brothers, John and Matt. There has also been the support of friends, teachers, coaches and teammates.
Among his teammates, perhaps no one understands what Casey is going through more than Thad Starsiak, a fellow senior who plays linebacker next to Casey. Thad’s mother died when he was 12.
“For me, it was really hard at first,” Thad says. “Casey has been outstanding through everything. He has an awesome work ethic. He works hard in the classroom and on the field. He’s a real good role model, and he’s a great friend, too. He’s going to go far in life.”
Sharing the bonds and the dreams of a team through months of weightlifting sessions, practices and games has helped Casey. So has being a part of the faith communities of the high school and St. Christopher Parish in Indianapolis.
“Their family is so close,” Swintz said. “Instead of being hurt and angry, they’ve clung to each other and their faith. Their hearts are breaking, but they keep picking up their feet every day.”
As Casey tries to keep moving forward, he also sometimes looks back.
(Story continues below)
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He remembered that as soon as he recovered from his hip surgery when he was four, his mom had him start running and playing sports “because she didn’t want me sitting inside playing video games.”
He recalled the family dinners they had together.
He thought about the times she didn’t like a referee’s call, and how she would stand up in the bleachers and shout her displeasure.
Most of all, he focused on her goodness.
“She would do anything for you,” he said. “She was a great mother. She raised all three of us to be great people. I think I’m a pretty nice guy, and my brothers are very good people. She was always smiling and laughing about something. And she loved football.”
Casey smiled through most of his memories of his mom. But his emotions surfaced at one point.