Football player remembered in Bartlesville

Posted at 6:21 PM, Sep 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-21 19:21:37-04

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - Despite classes being canceled Monday, some Wesleyan Christian School classmates still came together.

The students met with youth pastors following the news Saturday morning that their classmate Ben Hamm had died from football injuries he sustained a week earlier.

They shared memories and stories of their time with the junior.

During a game against Woodland High School on Sept. 11, Hamm, a linebacker and team captain, suffered a serious injury late in the game. He passed away Sept. 19 following multiple surgeries.

The Depew football team honored Hamm Friday night by putting number 28 on their helmets. They also raised money and collected snacks to bring to family members in the hospital.

On Monday, his friends and teammates described Hamm as having a personality that was larger than life, as well as how positive he was.

"I just feel like we are all going to be able to push through because we know where he is at. We know that goodbye is not the end and that we are going to see him again. Everything that we do for now on will just before him," said Sydney Frederick.

Wesleyan Christian has a total enrollment of 350 students from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Hamm's mother is a third-grade teacher at the school.

Students and friends spent a couple hours sharing stories and memories of Hamm and finding strength in what many of them call his larger-than-life and always positive personality.

"I just feel like we are all going to be able to push through because we know where he is at," junior Sydney Frederick said. "We know that goodbye is not the end and that we are going to see him again. Everything that we do for now on will just be for him."

Students said they're trying to help each other, as word of Hamm's passing came as a shock over the weekend. 

"Whenever he got hurt it wasn't on my mind that he would leave us, that he would pass away," senior Rayleigh Rowell said. "I mean that wasn't even something that I thought about. I mean Ben was always so strong, was always there. I mean that never even crossed I my mind."

The small school is now missing an emotional leader on the football field and also in the classroom.

"He would just lighten up your day," junior Luke Gotwalt said. Everyone had to be happy around him. You couldn't have a bad day. He was just full of energy. He could pump you up no matter what. He was a motivator and a great guy."

A motivator and great guy, his teammates took the field without last Friday in Depew.

"It was just weird not hearing his voice," senior Sam Phillips said. "Because I play line and he was a linebacker. It was just weird not hearing him back there calling out the checks and the blitzes and saying 'lets go!'"

Junior Nathan Buzan said he played linebacker next to Hamm every game. Depew's crowd honored Hamm with signs which read 'Pray for Ben', which Buzan said his team appreciated. 

"Teams all-around were praying and they had signs up," Buzan said. "I think our emotions were high but we just played all out for him."

As emotions remain high at Wesleyan Christian, his team plans to honor Hamm this Friday night. Hamm wore the number 28 jersey for the Wesleyan Christian Mustangs. The school's superintendent Rocky Clark said the football team will be painting the 28 yard markers on the field in his honor. 

As a team captain Hamm also would have walked to mid-field for the game's coin toss. The teams two other captains plan to carry Hamm's jersey to the coin toss in his memory.

On Tuesday morning classes are scheduled to resume at Wesleyan. A post on the school's Facebook page reports high school students will meet in the Youth Chapel at 8:15 a.m. Students will spend time honoring Hamm before returning to their regular schedule. 

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