Hartsville's Calabrese releases heartfelt letter

Hartsville head football coach Jeff Calabrese has released a letter to the media with his only statement on the death of Red Foxes defensive lineman Ronald Rouse. Rouse collapsed and died on Friday during Hartsville's game against Crestwood. He was laid to rest on Wednesday.

Personal Letter from Jeff Calabrese, HHS Head Coach:

October 10, 2012

Dear Media,

Thank you for your patience. I decided to write a letter because, quite frankly, I am having a hard time with my wordsâ?¦.even finding the correct things to say, but I will try. I need you all to understand that I really love our players; our coaches love our players; and I believe our players love us. Ronald and I had an extremely close relationship. I have been absolutely devastated, and have only been able to stand because of my trust in God.

Telling our players of Ronaldâ??s death was the most excruciating thing I have ever had to do. After the words somehow came out of my mouth, our coaches immediately tried to console our boys. As coaches, we had to find a way to be strong for our kids. Grown men have had experiences in their lives that young men have not. We HAD to find the courage to be there for them. Again, I believe God gave us [as a staff] that ability.

I have never been more proud of a group of young men in my life. These kids have drawn strength from each other, family, and their faith.

Ronald was a very special young man whom I loved dearly. The depth of his personality canâ??t really be put into words. Everyone has had a â??Rouse Momentâ??. We have been sharing those moments for three days, and we will keep goingâ?¦the stories are endless. Ronald also knew the Bible very well, and was proud of his faith. If you were in Ronaldâ??s life, you basically experienced every emotion there is, and sometimes that was on a daily basis. Ronald was a true blessing and we all are grateful for the time we shared.

While football is not the most important thing right now, we had to come up with a plan to move forward. Our players thought that playing on Friday was the best option. I do not know how we will play, or to be honest, what kind of job I have actually done this weekâ?¦.The victory is in finding the courage and strength to take the field.

Jeff Calabrese

Head Coach

Hartsville High School Red Foxes

WPDE and coverage of Ronald Rouse

Wednesday: Friends and family gather for football player's funeral

Monday: Crestwood extends gesture to Hartsville

Monday: Funeral Arrangements for Ronald Rouse

Saturday - Rich's Blog: Remembering Ronald Rouse

Saturday - Teammates shares his thoughts

Saturday: Questions surround death of football player

Friday: Loris presents HTC Game Ball to Rouse family and Hartsville

Friday - Chevy End Zone coverage of Ronald Rouse

Friday - Hartsville football player collapses and dies