Photo by Inside the Gators
Florida Football

Grimes honors Stoneman Douglas victims in everything he does

September 11, 2018
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Trevon Grimes fiddles with the bracelet on his left wrist, rubbing his thumb tenderly across the words that have long faded, giving a clue as to how just after a few short months the ink has disappeared. He hasn’t taken it off since first donning it and due to the days of wear, tear and unconscious touches the bracelet no longer bares any message. Grimes adheres to the unwritten rule that you don’t take them off unless they break; so instead he just put another one on his right wrist.

That’s the one he turns to next, showing the words “Douglas Strong” as he starts to talk about a topic he generally avoids.

“I had a friend [at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School] that passed away tragically so I wear this to support her.”

On the other side of the bracelet is a name, referencing his friend, Meadow Pollack, who was killed in the February 14 school shooting that took the lives of Pollack and 16 others.

Grimes doesn’t talk about it much, admitting it makes him emotional to think about that fateful day. But on a late Monday evening, still in full pads and sweating from an intense practice, the Gators wide receiver stops and says “ok.” The typically affable and smiling sophomore looks reflective as he explains that he has a voice by which to remember those 17 victims and all of the hurting friends and family back home. So no matter how emotional it makes him or the memories the conversation drudges up, he wants to use that voice—and other little touches—to make sure no one forgets about the victims of the Parkland tragedy.

On the afternoon of February 14 a shooter stepped into the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, pulled a fire alarm and opened fire shortly before class was to end for the day. Within ten minutes 17 students and faculty members had been killed and 17 others injured. It is the largest mass shooting at a United States high school.

In the months that have followed students from MSD have met with President Donald Trump, marched on Washington and pled with lawmakers to enact some sort of change, anything to help ensure this would never happen again.

Revolutions can come in a lot of different ways though and it rarely happens in a wave; change that last typically starts as a ripple, touching individuals and creating a butterfly effect in lives that are bound together. In Gainesville, Tre Grimes lives as one of those people. Setting aside politics or debates or anything else that gets in the way of talking about lives—in the space of ten minutes on February 14 countless people were changed across a nation and a generation. For Grimes, the only way to really find a positive in a mess of tragedy is to acknowledge the effect—the change—that day had on his life.

“It changed the way I think about a lot of things because you never know when your time is coming. All 17 of those kids went to school and now aren’t here so it’s just a big blow to you being that it’s so close to home.

“It gives you a new purpose to go harder in life and to do more things and to see things from a difference aspect. Because everyday I step onto this field I always wear this (bracelet)… and everyday on my cleats I have 'MSD 17 strong.'”

Grimes is a Fort Lauderdale native who attended high school at St. Thomas Aquinas. He says he lived closed enough to Parkland though that he could walk from his house to Stoneman Douglas and even attended their prom with some of his best friends that are students there. So on the day of the memorial, while his teammates took to the field for offseason practice, Grimes slipped away and headed home to grieve.

“I went to the memorial with my family and friends and we all went to the memorial and just sat there. I probably just sat there for like four hours. We were just sitting there just mourning on the losses of all 17 victims.”

When he returned to Gainesville, he knew he had to bring the souls of those 17 with him; he also left a piece of himself there in memory,

Aaron Feis who was the assistant coach who jumped in front to save a couple of the kids, he’s a hero in my eyes and everyone back home. I had a pair of Florida cleats and I gave them to his brother and he set them for his memorial and he has them now from me. So I feel like that’s a piece of me given to him. So every time I step on the field it’s in memory of him and the 16 other’s that passed.”

Now he keeps them with him every day. When he scored his first touchdown—on his first reception—in the Swamp on September 1, he didn’t waltz into the endzone alone. The stat sheet says the score belongs to Grimes but there were a few names missing.

  • Alyssa Alhadeff
  • Scott Beigel
  • Martin Duque Anguiano
  • Nicolas Dworet
  • Aaron Feis
  • Jamie Guttenberg
  • Chris Hixon
  • Luke Hoyer
  • Cara Loughran
  • Gina Montalto
  • Joaquin Oliver
  • Alaina Petty
  • Meadow Pollack
  • Helena Ramsey
  • Alex Schachter
  • Carmen Schentrup
  • Peter Wang

With his bracelet on his wrist and the message on his cleats, Tre took all 17 victims from Stoneman Douglas with him.

Grimes, who transferred to Florida from Ohio State to be closer to family while his mom fought medical issues, headed to the sidelines after that touchdown and was engulfed in a hug by his head coach Dan Mullen.

“He just told me congratulations and he told me, ‘Welcome to the Swamp.’ It was honestly an amazing feeling just being able to come back and hug my coach and being able to have him share that moment with me was an amazing feeling. For him to be there for me, knowing everything I’ve been through, he just told me congratulations, welcome to the Swamp.”

There should be plenty more of those moments for the promising sophomore receiver. And the grind that goes into becoming a star will likely wear on his bracelets. But it won’t be a problem. If they get worn down, he’ll just put on another one.

“I probably have like 20 back at home.”

It’s more than a bracelet though. It’s more than a quick jot on the cleats with a sharpie marker. And it’s more than taking a moment to open up about a difficult topic. For Trevon Grimes, these are all just little things he can do, his duty as he sees it, to reflect the change February 14, 2018 had on his life and make sure it’s never forgotten.

“That's a memory of who I play for and everybody back home who supports me, that's at that school that supports me so I feel like I owe it to them.

“It’s an honor to be able to represent them.”

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