Article reposted from Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
Author: Jeremiah Bartz
Dozens of roses, Life Savers candy, a pair of Xtratufs, some tears and a difficult goodbye.
Houston High School and the Hawks football program honored longtime athletic trainer Carolyn Black Thursday evening during halftime of a C-team game against Wasilla. Black has served as Houston High’s volunteer athletic trainer for 21 years. But Thursday marked her final night on the Houston High sideline.
Black is moving with her family to Dutch Harbor. But before she leaves, Houston High players, coaches, administrators and parents took time to recognize, Black, a Houston High sports staple for more than two decades.
There were gifts. The Xtratufs boots, a must-have for her new life in Dutch Harber. And the Life Savers candy, because as one parent told the Houston High crowd, Black has been, “a life saver.”
A handful of those close to Houston High athletics spoke, including Jared Barrett and Colton Conner, a pair of Houston High graduates who returned to coach at their alma mater. Both told stories of Black’s help during their playing days.
Whether it was Houston High activities director Dave Porter or Mat Bredburg, the Houston football program’s first head coach, the message delivered by each person who spoke was similar.
Heartfelt appreciation for Black’s time working with Houston High.
Black said leaving is certainly bittersweet. Black’s husband, John, has a job opportunity in Dutch Harber, and Black has the chance to stay at home with their 4-year-old son Steven.
“It gives me one year of fun and adventure,” Black said of spending time with her son, who starts kindergarten next fall.
But she’s also saying goodbye to her position at Back In Action physical therapy in Wasilla, where she has also been for 21 years.
“I loved working at my job at Back in Action,” Black said. “They supported me the whole time, being out here at Houston. It has been amazing.”
Black also praised Dr. Dan Larson, also known for volunteering his time during local high school sporting events for decades.
“We both transitioned into helping so much with sports,” Black said.
To Black, working at Back in Action and with Houston High was the perfect combination, she said. She had her patients in the office and the players on the field.
“It’s been an absolutely amazing life. I wouldn’t have changed a thing,” Black said.
During her first year at Back in Action, Black said she helped out during a couple of wrestling tournaments and basketball games.
“It just got more and more. I couldn’t leave it,” Black said.
She’s been with Houston football, since the school’s program made its debut. Black’s journey with Houston High has also included her brother and best friend, Norm, a longtime Hawks mentor who has coached a handful of sports during his time at Houston High.
For last 21 years, Houston High has been a big part of life for Black and her family.
“Oh my gosh, it’s everything,” Black said.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman sports editor Jeremiah Bartz at email@example.com.