Dylan Coburn, Tommy Faigl and Cadon Shaklee have all been in the stat sheets throughout the year for the Rock Springs Tigers football team. From turnovers to touchdowns, the three studs on the football field have proven to be key players for the Tigers this season.
What the record books don’t show is that Coburn, Faigl and Shaklee all have one thing in common. At least one of their biological parents won’t be cheering in the stands come Saturday evening when the 4A state championship game kicks off.
“It’s crazy how your life can change so quickly,” Shaklee said.
Shaklee lost his father when he was three. He grew up without really knowing his dad and life was hard for his family as his mother did her best to support the family on multiple jobs.
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Faigl also lost his father at the age of four, which clouded the family’s days for quite some time.
“I had to teach myself a lot of things that dad’s teach their kids,” Faigl said.
As for Coburn, he lost his mother to cancer when he was in the eighth grade.
“The hardest thing is not seeing her in the stands. It’s hard not having her experience those first things in your life,” Coburn said.
“It took a massive toll on my life. She was my best friend,” Coburn said. “Everything I do in this world is to make her proud. I know she’s watching.”
Saved by Football
The loss of parents has been difficult for Coburn, Faigl and Shaklee and their families. But football played an important role in teaching them life lessons and connecting with their lost loved ones.
Initially Faigl wasn’t sure if he wanted to play football growing up, but he took the leap of faith and it made all the difference for him and his family.
“Football was like the first thing that my family was able to care about,” Faigl said. “It brought us out of hell. Football was amazing and it was always there.”
Shaklee grew up wrestling, which was his dad’s favorite sport. It helped him learn lessons about toughness and fighting through adversity. It wasn’t until his stepdad encouraged him to try football that he found a love for the football, which has continued to build upon those earlier lessons.
For Coburn, everything he’s done in football was to make his mother proud. It’s been a way to reconnect with her before each game and focus on doing things in his life that would make her proud.
It would be an understatement to say that football didn’t play a role in building Coburn, Faigl and Shaklee into the young men they are today. They just might have been saved by football.
Playing for Each Other
The trio shared similar challenges growing up, and it’s brought them closer together as friends and teammates.
When Coburn’s mother passed away, both Cadon and Tommy were just two of his friends who helped him navigate his tragedy. If it weren’t for his friends and family, he’s not sure he’d be where he’s at today.
The ability to care for one another has been a pillar of the team this season.
“All of us care the same amount. There’s not one kid on the team that doesn’t care,” Faigl said.
“I don’t think anyone can get closer as a group than we are,” Shaklee said.
This season the Tigers have faced plenty of adversity and nearly every time they have pushed through that adversity on the field. Faigl said that he approaches the game from the mindset of what his brothers around him have been through.
Having my teammates that have gone through this with me has changed my mentality. I think about how Dylan had to watch his mom die and so I get back up and keep going for Dylan. Or Cadon who was house hopping with his mom and had no where to stay. I’m tired, but I’ll continue to push for Cadon because he had to struggle. That pushes me knowing that my brothers had to struggle with me.Tommy Faigl
Faigl added that RSHS head coach Mark Lenhardt has become a father figure for many in the locker room and has encouraged the team to play for each other.
“I’ve never been coached like he coaches,” Faigl said. “He wants to make us better men in the future. That’s something I never had growing up. Mark Lenhardt definitely helped shape me into the man I am today.”
When Coburn, Faigl and Shaklee take to the field on Saturday and play for the 4A state championship game, they will be playing for more than a championship. They will be playing for each other and for their loved ones.