Sargent, Sting score together
Braxton Sargent took the handoff, cut right and found his way into the endzone for a 10-yard rushing touchdown to cap off the Minnesota Sting’s 61-0 victory over the Cedar Valley Charge on June 21 at East Ridge High School.
Moments later he was swarmed by all of the Sting players in the end zone in celebration.
Sargent, 4, scored the touchdown in the arms of family friend and Sting head coach Shawn Anderson. The moment provided a fitting end to the BJ Sargent Memorial Game at East Ridge High School.
BJ Sargent, Braxton’s father, took his own life in August 2013, leaving Braxton without his father, and Anderson without one of his childhood friends and with a bit of regret.
BJ Sargent had texted Anderson the night before taking his life, but Anderson was working and unable to answer. By the time he was able to respond, it was too late.
So Anderson made a promise to himself. He promised that he was going to help guide Braxton as much as he could, that he was going to be another male role model in Braxton’s life.
“I wanted Braxton to always know that maybe his real father isn’t there, but he still has numerous, numerous people in the community that are willing to take that role,” Anderson said.
The Minnesota Sting set up the BJ Sargent Memorial game to raise funds for the Sargent family and raise awareness for suicide prevention.
What ensued was a lasting memory.
With the Sting’s dominating performance over Cedar Valley nearing completion, Braxton, sporting a No. 22 Sting jersey, his father’s favorite number, looked up at Anderson and asked “Well what are we going to do?”
It was at that point when Anderson informed Braxton that he was going to score a touchdown and asked him if he wanted the ball. That idea was meant with some hesitancy.
“They’re going to tackle me,” Braxton said to Anderson.
But Anderson assured Braxton that would not be the case.
“No. Our guys are going to protect you,” Anderson said to Braxton.
So the two marched out onto the field. But as they moved toward the line of scrimmage, Braxton fell to the ground. His feet, bare because he didn’t want to wear his flip flops for fear of them falling off, grew hot as he paced across the warm turf.
So Anderson rubbed Braxton’s feet and the two made a deal that Anderson would carry Braxton and they would score together.
Once everyone was in formation, with Anderson and Braxton lined up as the tailback in the I formation, quarterback Matthew Birr looked back at the two and asked which way they wanted to go.
Braxton pointed right, the perfect call.
Anderson said Braxton got very excited when all of the players came rushing from the bench to swarm around him, until the point when it got too loud for him, at which time Anderson broke up the huddle.
Anderson, the father of an 8-year-old boy, said he couldn’t imagine what Braxton is going through on a daily basis.
“I just thought that it would be cool for him and something that he would always remember for the rest of his life was to get out there on that football field wearing his dad’s favorite number with a bunch of people that really cared about him and loved him maybe just to help him get his mind off of the fact that his dad’s not here anymore,” Anderson said.
Anderson said Braxton has a ton of uncles and family that supports him, including his grandfather Al, who is his legal guardian. Anderson hopes to be yet another positive role model in Braxton’s life, a role that includes providing some influence in a couple of different areas.
Braxton’s family is related to the St. Louis Blues hockey defenseman and USA olympic star TJ Oshie, so hockey runs deep in the Sargent’s blood. BJ Sargent was a big hockey fan, Anderson said.
Still, as a football coach, Anderson would also like Braxton to spend some time on the gridiron.
“Hopefully he’ll be a two-sport athlete,” Anderson joked. “Al Sargent is OK with that. He wants him to be a two-sport athlete, as well.”
Braxton’s first career highlight is likely one he’ll remember for some time to come. More than a week later Braxton’s family told Anderson that the young star continued to talk about the moment he shared with Anderson and the rest of his Sting family.
Anderson said he hopes the touchdown is a lifelong memory for Braxton.
“I know it’ll sit with me forever,” Anderson said. “It was very touching.”
And as he gazed at some of the faces of his players as they celebrated with Braxton in the endzone and saw tears streaming down the cheeks of some of his big linemen, it was clear the moment would stick with them as well.
“Seeing the look on Braxton’s face while he was hitting the end zone hit me hard,” Sting offensive lineman Cameron Perket said on the Sting players’ Facebook page. “Made me realize what this is all about.”
To watch Braxton’s touchdown, visit http://www.stingfootball.net/news_article/show/397878?referrer_id=703431.