DUDLEY, Mass. - Twelve months have passed since seventeen lives were taken when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“Its felt longer than a year,” Tyler Goodman, a survivor, told Boston 25 News.
When the shots rang out on Valentine’s Day 2018, Goodman was meeting with recruiters from Nichols College. They hunkered down in his coach’s office until given the all clear.
The Division III school wasn’t even on Goodman’s radar, but the bond he formed with the recruiters, especially Assistant Dean for Enrollment Paul Brower, changed that.
"With Paul [Brower] and Coach [St. Clair] Ryan there that day, kind of being a safety blanket, a lot of signals were thrown up at me and kind of like saying, 'Hey, I'm giving you signals here. Take your opportunity and go to this school,’” Goodman said.
Brower said he and the other adults in the room did everything they could to keep the young men in the office calm.
“We definitely got to know each other a little bit and really start to understand one another,” Brower told Boston 25 News. “It was hard to see those guys go through such a tragedy in their community."
Goodman committed to Nichols. He packed his bags and made the journey from warm and sunny South Florida to cold and snowy Dudley, Massachusetts. He said he doesn’t regret his decision.
“I’ve already made it through 110-degree weather,” Goodman joked. “if I can make it through negative-four-degree weather, and still do my best and perform, I can make it through anything. There’s nothing that can stop me. It’s a great life experience – a South Florida kid living up north.”
While Goodman’s high school classmates have spent the last year building their national movement known as March For Our Lives, he has sort of become an outsider.
“I don't really focus on the politics,” Goodman said. “I'm not a huge politics person.”
The football field is where he has found ability to triumph through tragedy.
"The thing I want to do is try and make a change through the sport aspect,” Goodman said.
With every snap and every pass, Goodman knows he isn’t alone on the field, which motivates him to play with a purpose.
“I was able to wear 17. I’ll wear that as long as I play here. I have cleats with all their names on them,” Goodman said. "It's just a huge thing for me to always show that they've never left my side from that day and they will never leave my side for the rest of my life."
Goodman is finding his own way to heal, but proving successful both on the field and in the classroom.
"I was saved that day so I'm going to make the best of my opportunity and do everything for them because I know this is what they want me to do,” Goodman said.
He’s just 19-years-old and already inspiring the world around him.
"He really is driven and I think part of it is he really wants to represent that group - the 17 who passed that day as well as he can every day,” Brower said. “It's pretty amazing to watch such a young man go through that process and just genuinely just care so much about representing that group and being a positive influence."
Both Brower and Goodman look at like a little differently these days.
“I live every day like it could be my last because you know, coming from that small safe community and something tragic like that happening, just kind of blows your whole world up and you're like, 'Wow. It can happen anywhere,’” Goodman said. “It kind of made me always on my toes.”
For Brower, he looks to spend more time with his wife and daughter.
“Instead of taking that extra trip to do work stuff, I catch my daughter's basketball game or go have dinner with my daughter and my wife,” Brower said. “Its been a little bit of a mindset change. It's that pretty painful reminder that nothing is ever given.”
Goodman played in four games this past season. He completed 3-of-5 pass attempts for 26 yards.
The Nichols College Bison finished their season third in the conference with a 5-5 record.
The Bison played their home opener the same night Goodman’s alma mater played their first home game back in Florida.
Both teams won.
Stoneman Douglas, by 17.
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