One of the things I love most about Arkansas is its small towns. You know the ones. A couple of stoplights, a gas station, tasty freeze and a country cookin’ diner. The high schoool football stadium is packed on Friday night and so are all of the churches on Sunday.
One of my favorites is Star City. Located between Pine Bluff and Monticello, it is a quaint, little Southeast Arkansas town.
I became very acquainted with it and the high school football program the five years I worked at the Pine Bluff Commercial. I covered at least two or three games there every year. The parking attendant recognized my car and sent me through a side gate to a spot right near the press box every time. The press box crew was nice and friendly, and called me by name after my first couple of visits.
I usually stopped and grabbed a bite to eat before the game or got gas on the way out of town. I always felt a friendly vibe. It reminded me a lot of my home area in Iowa. Many agricultural, down home folks. I even joked to my wife, Sheena, I would like to retire there someday. “Why is that?” she said. “The quiet countryside and decent people,” I said.“And they value high school football, which is cool.”
The great thing about a small town is its people stick together. The people of Star City have had to lean on each other a lot over the past year and a half. And unfortunately will have to more in the future. At first it was coping with the disabling injury of one of its football players – Zack Towers. Now, the small town is mourning his death.
After collapsing during a football game in 2012, Towers fought through a coma and even attended a couple of Bulldogs football games last year. However, he lost his battle last week.
The hurt could be felt all across the state by coaches, players and players’ parents, who had followed his story in the media. Many prayed he would eventually make a full recovery.
No one prayed harder than the Star City coaches
and players and others in the community. Hand-painted store front windows pleaded for prayer, even a year after that fateful Thursday night.
An overflow crowd paid their respects to the 19-year-old, once a football standout. While many knew this day may come, it was still a shock. If there had been hope of a recovery it was replaced by the sadness that came with the announcement of the serious injury. Some friends were glad to think Towers had returned to his natural state in heaven, no longer disabled.
The tragedy has taken a toll on many who loved Towers, which was probably just about everybody in town. A loss like that doesn’t heal immediately. The good thing is they have each other. The Towers family isn’t alone and neither are the coaches, the former Bulldogs teammates, classmates and friends.
This is a special town and through a tremendous faith and great sense of community they will remember Towers with a great tribute, while trying to heal broken hearts the best they can.
If you would like the donate to the Zack Towers Scholarship Fund you can send a check to The Bank of Star City P.O. Box 69 Star City, AR 71667 Attn: Wanda Tubbs or call 870-628-4286.