Friday, July 11, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

HS Football Star Experiencing the Toughest of Times

Getting help from his teammates

HS Football Star Experiencing the Toughest of Times

A young football player is sidelined - just a few months after losing his mother to cancer.  The star wide receiver for a team that won South Jersey's Group 4 title last season has drawn recruiting interest from colleges and was looking forward to his senior year when he was injured in a freak play that is going to cost him half the season.

I can't know exactly how feels, but I was touched by the sight of Drake Rodgers watching while the rest of his Cherokee HS team practiced. I shot the photo and figured I'd made a telling image.

But in truth, he is not standing out there alone.

I only spent a few minutes with him yesterday, but Inquirer South Jersey sports columnist Phil Anastasia got to talk with Rodger about how he is coping with things.  He is doing it with help from his teammates.  He knows truly tough times have nothing to do with games. And he knows that teammates - true teammates - are there at difficult moments that have nothing to do with dropped passes or interceptions.

"I don't know what I would have done without my friends," Rodgers tells Anastasia. "I can't even explain how much they've meant to me." To read more about the young man (and to see more photos that actually show his face!!) click here.

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at tgralish@phillynews.com.

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected