Football player Ronald Lake remembers
Alexis Weedon never had to tell his son, Ronald, that he was handsome.
He knew for himself.
“He was like, ‘Mom, I’m your cutest kid, aren’t I?” said Alexis Weedon.
“He looks like he had a million dollar smile,” added his father, Ronald Lake Jr.
It was Ronald Lake III in a nutshell. Still confident. Always sure of himself. Always ready for his next challenge.
He started calling himself “the GOAT” – an abbreviation for “the greatest of all time” – during his junior football season at York County Tech.
He was already planning his future career as a welder before his last year of high school.
Lake passed away suddenly in his sleep at home on July 31. Her family are still awaiting an autopsy report to determine the cause of death.
He was 17 years old.
Defensive back and running back, Lake was selected as the captain of the York County Tech football team this season. Spartans head coach Matt Glennon said he was one of the hardest workers on the team, but also “probably the best athlete on the team.”
“You would never guess it would happen to anyone, but for him, it’s unimaginable,” said Glennon. “I’ve been a coach for over 20 years and have handled a lot of things, but this is the first time that I have dealt with this.
“The more you talk about it … the less it makes sense to you.”
Those who knew Lake say they will be remembered for his work ethic and “dynamic” personality.
He was a joker who would do anything to make his parents laugh. He had four siblings and was a protector for his two younger sisters.
He wore Metallica T-shirts (he loved the design) and listened to music ranging from country to rock to hip hop. He loved video games, but also cooking and pickup sports.
He lived in York, but befriended a wide range of students at his vocational high school. His best friend was his next door neighbor, Spartans quarterback Jamar Johnson, but his father remembers dropping him off at a classmate “33 minutes in the country.”
“This is going to show you all the different families whose lives have been touched by my son,” said Lake Jr .. “He has always found the comfort of making you laugh, even in the most boring times.
“He was never a stressful or unhappy kid. His mind was always positive.”
Football adds to confidence
Glennon said Lake always had a smile on his face, but one smile in particular stands out in his memory.
Lake has spent most of the past year working as a welder at Bradley Lifting in York. There were days on weekends and this summer where he would work a full eight hour day and then attend football practice sessions in the evenings.
“He had worked the day before and he said to me, ‘Coach, I didn’t want to come to this training session but I had to do it,’” said Glennon. “To have a child who sticks like that … I tell my sons all the time, ‘A lot of kids want to be good, but this kid worked to be good.'”
Ronald Lake Jr. played football and basketball at York High, but said he didn’t want to pressure his son into playing sports. Lake III played primarily flag football and didn’t get into organized sports until after college.
He started football after transferring to York Tech from York Academy in his sophomore year.
Glennon described him as a “gangly, clumsy” child who had potential but needed to develop. His father remembered that he first had trouble reading gambling calls.
“But my son, when he had his eyes on something he was focused,” said Lake Jr. “He was going to do anything.
“Slowly but surely he was coming.
York County Tech entered last season on a 35-game losing streak that stretched into 2016. The Spartans ended the streak with a 14-13 victory over Hanover last September.
Lake intercepted two assists in the win.
“Oh my God, was that a big moment,” Weedon said rhetorically. “That was all he was talking about for the next two months.”
Lake began calling himself “the GOAT” soon after the victory, which led to a conversation with his father about being a team player and the difference between confidence and arrogance.
Still, Lake Jr. remembers the next game against Littlestown more clearly. He said that regardless of which side of the pitch his son lined up defensively, it was the side the Bolts avoided throwing the ball towards.
“His confidence came before sport, but I will say football added to his structure and discipline, and that gave him an extra boost,” Lake Jr. said. “He praised of his coaches and teammates.
But even though he was looking forward to his final season, Lake was thinking about sports and high school. While watching a few colleges near Pittsburgh, he was genuinely interested in becoming an underwater welder for the US Army or US Marines Corps.
The profession frightened his parents because of the potential danger, but they appreciated that their son was focused on his future.
“We can’t stop our kids if they want to go to the moon,” Lake Jr. said. “He was giving us things to think about and he was changing his mind a bit (on underwater welding). raised my kids to be steadfast in everything they do, and that’s how Ronald lived his life. ”
Treat the pain
Lake Jr. was standing outside his house remembering his son with a few of his friends this week when they heard a gunshot “two blocks away”.
It reminded him of all the things he and Alexis were trying to protect their children from.
“Raising a child in the City of York is not an easy job. It’s stressful,” said Lake Jr. “You try to prepare them for anything in life, but anything can happen when you walk outside. ”
“Being a black boy these days is tough,” Weedon added. “I made sure my son wouldn’t fall victim to these streets.”
Lake didn’t have any trouble, according to his parents. They said he always went to class and never fought. Lake Jr. said he heard friends say his son had never tried drugs or even cigarettes.
Because of this, Lake Jr. said he also heard the same from everyone he knew:
“I can’t believe this happened to your son.”
He described the moment he heard of his son’s death as “just the absence of life … there is no beat in you”.
“It wasn’t a fall, he didn’t have an accident, he never had any heart or health problems,” said Lake Jr. “Not everyone who has laid eyes on him can just don’t believe it. “
“I’m still in shock,” Weedon said.
Over the past week, Lake Jr. and Weedon have been trying to find some level of comfort in the way their son has lived his life.
They said it had been helpful to hear from neighbors that Lake was always respectful to them.
“I’m glad I can say that my son has no flaws in his character,” said Lake Jr. “The only negative is what we’re dealing with now… what every person who has known my son has deal now.
“God just wanted another angel.”
Honor his memory
Lake Jr. and Weedon said there was a brief moment of confusion this week when they realized no one in the house had replaced the trash bags.
It had always been one of Lake’s jobs.
“I’m still waiting for him to come down and say, ‘What are we cooking today?'” Said Lake Jr.. “Or ask if he needs to help chop the veggies. .
“I’m still waiting for this.”
The facade of the family house is lined with candles left in memory of the lake. A celebration of life will be held for him at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Bishop Small Memorial AME Zion Church.
The York County Tech football team is looking for ways to honor its captain. Glennon said all of the team’s helmets will carry a sticker with Lake’s number 10 this season. He plans to hang Lake’s jersey in the dressing room as a tribute.
He said the school is planning to bring in a bereavement counselor for the players.
“It’s hard to figure out how to frame football during all of this,” Glennon said. “I don’t want to use Ronald as an example every time, but sometimes it can be okay to tell them when they’re tired, ‘What would Ronald do? “
“I will try to give space to the children who need it and give a hug to the children who need it.”
Lake’s parents have said they are currently grieving “minute by minute” rather than “day to day”. They said that every happy memory is quickly followed by a moment of “pain and hurt”.
They hope their son will be remembered for his humor and his heart.
“And handsome,” his mother added quickly. “He was genuine. An original.”
“Plain and simple facts,” his father said calmly in agreement.
“There isn’t a single word I can identify to describe it,” continued Lake Jr. “I will just remember a child who was full of life.”
Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, [email protected] or on Twitter at @ bad2theallibone.