From the ashes … we rose again

Image from the film "We Are Marshall"
Image from the film “We Are Marshall”

True stories about sports

By Jasmine Willis

If you notice mostly all sports films are about a true story … they tell us not only the story about how the team won, but also what the team lost.

I often cover stories which involve sports in some way. Every time I hear a student talk about their love for the game, a coach fight to have his team keep their identity, and a school that believes sports are the lifeblood of their community I think of these beautiful films about football, baseball, soccer, basketball, hockey and so forth.

The best sports film ever made is “We Are Marshall.” This film is about so much more than football. It is a heartbreaking story about a town in West Virginia that lost so much on a day none of them have forgotten in the 1970s.

When I think of “We Are Marshall” I think of growing up in various small towns where if this happened to them we would have been just as destroyed.

“In the middle of Hunington, West Virginia there is a river, next to this river there is a steel mill, And next to this steel mill, there is a school… In the middle of this school, there is a fountain. Each year on the exact same day, at the exact same hour … the water to this fountain is turned off. In this moment once every year …throughout the town, throughout the school … time stands still,” Annie~ opening quote.

“Those were not welcome days, we buried sons, brothers, mothers, fathers, fiances… clocks ticked but time did not pass. The sun rose and the sun set, but the shadows remained. When once there was sound … now there was silence. What once was whole… now is shattered,” Annie.

Some of the most beautiful quotes from a sports related film are in this movie. I am not what you call a major sports fan, but that is what makes these films so powerful. You don’t have to love football to love “We Are Marshall.” You don’t have to understand football to understand “We Are Marshall.”

I think about a town, next to a river, in West Virginia, and how once every year they still honor a group of college students, families, friends, pillars of the community, and how they still shout out “We Are Marshall” over 40 years later.

It is stories like this one that make us believe sports are more than just a game. They are about honoring the fallen. They are about rising up from the ashes of a shattered town and grabbing glory. They are about heart.

The town is hurting and a coach from another town picks up the phone and offers to help it heal. Rivals of the team honor them by putting their name on their helmets. This film is a symbol of coming together for those who are in pain, and offering them a helping hand.

The President of Marshall University asks the coach why he called; when it is clear he is not from Marshall.

“When I heard about what happened and your situation, the only thing I could think about was the four of them. I thought about how much they meant to me, about how bad it would hurt if I was to loose them. Then I thought about a team …and a school… and a town … that’s gotta be hurting real bad … and I thought hell… maybe I can help,” Coach Jack.

There are moments in this country when we all come together. We rise up and become heroes. We lend a helping hand. We offer a shoulder to cry on. We feel the pain, love, suffering, defeat, and strength of a community … the community becomes our community. The brothers, fathers, mothers, sisters, sons, and daughters become ours.

I think that is the true power of a film like “We Are Marshall.”

Friends who show us our own true greatness

Friends who motivate us to be ourselves
By Jasmine Willis

~Time is Like a Wheel. Turning and turning never stopping. For some, time passes slowly. An hour can seem like an eternity. For others, there is never enough ~ Tuck Everlasting

~Time takes it all, whether you want it to or not. Time bears it away. And in the end, there is only darkness. Sometimes we find others in that darkness, and sometimes we lose them there again~ The Green Mile

You may ask what started my obsession with time? Why quote two different stories about time?
Time is always lurking about as a constant reminder that at any moment it really could all be taken away. This story focuses on both points…time takes everything away, and there really isn’t enough.
All my life it has been said I never meet a stranger. This is very true. I have always been able to turn a stranger into an instant friend, whether I know them for five minutes or five years it doesn’t matter. I have invited another human being into my life story.
People come and go out of our lives all the time; some of them have made a huge impact on my life. I may only know someone for a brief moment and never see them again, but for a moment they inspired me to see who I am and not be afraid to be the person they know I can be. Pieces of you become pieces of them; your story becomes their story, and in that way I believe none of us are forgotten.
This story is about Alexandra P.  A brave girl who taught me to see the true greatness I have inside me. Alexandra P known to her friends as Alex was in the same Public Speaking class as me. She would only have short part to play in my life, but it would become one of the most important.
She came into class with such life and passion. She had a way about her that would make you feel like you were life long friends who had seen each other again after a very long journey. She was a dark Italian beauty who traveled the world with her mother.
Her passion for life was addicting and I found myself falling into the same passion filled absorption of it myself.
The day came we all had to give a presentation. Her presentation broke my heart … it was about breast cancer. The beautiful Alex P had breast cancer. By the end of the presentation she and all who loved her in the class were in tears.
Immediately after class I offered my help, if there was anything at all I could do for her. I gave her a big hug and didn’t understand she was saying goodbye. Alex P was an inspiring beautiful young 19 year old girl who taught me life was filled with possibilities.
I finished out my college life without my friend. I could never reach her, all lines were down. Time slipped by and there was never enough … never enough time with this amazing friend.
I can live a hundred years and never find another Alex P. Her view of life is rare.
I got to thinking of her one day in class and couldn’t finish the rest of the day. I drove all the way back home in tear soaked sobs. There is not a day that goes by were I don’t miss my friend.
I never got to say goodbye, and I don’t know if she is still out there or not. I hope she is living a beautiful cancer free life, but if she is gone I hope she knew how much she met to so many of us.
Time really does take it all, and if we aren’t careful we might miss our chance to tell someone how much their time on this earth has met to us.
Maybe just maybe I can be an Alex P for someone, because sometimes we meet others in that darkness, and sometimes we lose them there again.


Wall Mural Challenge!

Find inspiration on the wall


Honoring our American Flag 🇺🇸 

By Jasmine Willis

I feel these beautiful works of art go unnoticed by so many people.
When I was a student at Batavia GCC we did a photoshoot called Discovering Batavia.

There were several lovely wall murals on the sides of buildings as we walked a few blocks towards the forgotten parts of the town.

Therapy on the canvas

I often wished I had the talent these people do to make something so beautiful. These images are often used as a way to express whatever the artist is feeling or have their voices heard.

Like so many other things wall murals are seemingly lost in time.
Someone may purchase the building it is painted on and sadly paint over it.

This in my opinion is not only heartbreaking but unwise.

To paint over someone’s voice is un-American.


Now I am not talking about graffiti, which can be very damaging to peoples property. I am talking about am image painted to inspire the community. I am talking about an actual work of art. Like the images above .

I challenge all of you to take a walk around your community … Find these images on your buildings and discover your home. One day you may go back for some nostalgia, and they will simply be gone.

Coming back to family roots ~ An American Tale

By Lisa Willis
Photo by Lisa Willis ~ The Hann Homestead Inn


A Connecticut man came to Andover with $300 in his pocket in hopes to buy a saw mill, but that is just the beginning of a cherished American story.

In 1840 Simeon Hann purchased several hundred acres of land, and built a lovely home for his wife Rachel (Adams) Hann and their 10 children. For the next 120 years the large white luxurious home provided shelter for many generations of the Hann family.

In the 1960s the home was sold to an outsider, Harold Ford. After that the place stayed vacant and forgotten for nearly 40 years, before being purchased by David Herr in 2000.

Herr bought the home with intent on restoring it back to its natural beauty.

“He (Herr) bought the home for $50,000 and moved in with his wife and six children,” New Owner Barbara Strouse Rechenberg said. “He liked to incorporate the old with the new.”

Rechenberg saw great pride in her family home, and in March 2014 she was finally able to buy the 174- year- old house.

The Rechenberg’s opened their doors in July 2014, turning their family home into a Bed and Breakfast called The Hann Homestead Inn.

Rechenberg is the third great grandaughter of Simeon and Rachel Hann. She has several historical artifacts showcased, as well as keeping everything family oriented.

The five rooms available are named after the family lines: Adams, Lever, Burdick, Burch and Downs. There are two rooms with a private bathroom at $140 a night; three rooms with a shared bathroom at $100 a night.

“When people stay here we stay downstairs,” Rechenberg said. “There is a lot around here that people are interested in. Whether they are just passing through or coming back to the area everyone is welcome.”

The Hann House began as a home built by a loving husband for his dear wife and 10 children, a shelter for generations of Hann relatives, a sanctuary for the underground railroad, a place lost in time for decades on brink of extinction, rescued and restored to its natural beauty, and finally ending back where it all started … a place to call home for the weary traveler, familiar face or curious tourist alike.

Contact information can be found on The Hann Homestead Inn