Parkland Native RoadRunner Reflects on Tragedy

Parkland, Fla. native and Topeka RoadRunners forward Jake Friedman has been closely following his home town recently. Following the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Friedman found out his girlfriend, Samantha Mayor, was one of wounded students in the tragedy.

He recently talked with me about the course of events that took place that day and have taken place since.

R: Obviously, we have a very important and heavy subject to talk about. First off, I understand you are from and grew up in Parkland, Florida area. Is that correct?

J: Yes I did.

R: Were you born there and/or did you grow up there?

J: I grew up there. I still live there, and I started boarding school in ninth grade outside of Parkland.

R: Did you attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at any point, or were you already in boarding school at the time?

J: I would have attended there, but I was already in boarding school. I attended the middle school right next to it, though.

R: How big of a high school is Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School?

J: It’s about 3,300 students.

R: So you have family, friends and your girlfriend who all reside in Parkland? Is that correct?

J: Yes.

R: I understand Samantha was affected by this shooting in February?

J: My girlfriend was shot in the knee during the event.

R: I know that has to be hard to talk about, but how did you find out about the event? Was it through word of mouth, hearsay, social media or some other avenue?

J: It was right after practice. My sister had texted me that there was a shooting involving the high school, and I tried to call my girlfriend’s phone right away and she did not answer, so I sent her a couple texts and didn’t get anything back. At that point, I started watching the news and at that point, there was one dead and 12 or 13 injured. As I was driving home then, I got a call from my trainer, who trains my girlfriend as well. He told me that she was shot, but he did not really know if she was okay or not. He had just heard that she had been shot in the knee.

R: What was your reaction at that point? I’m sure it had to be sheer fear at that point.

J: Honestly, I didn’t really know much about how to deal with it. I was just trying to call everyone I knew to see if she was okay, and it wasn’t until about 15 minutes after the call from my trainer that she was able to call and text me that she was going to be okay.

R: That’s an event that’s rocked not only Parkland, but the state of Florida and the entire country. What has been it been like for your friends and family being so close to this?

J: It’s rough. It’s an unexplainable feeling when it happens in your backyard. A bunch of emotions, everything you can imagine, come out. I’m thankful that everyone that I’m close to is okay, but I know a lot of friends and families who knew those that have died. It’s pretty emotional down there.

R: Being with a hockey team, I’m sure there’s a lot of comradery and support. What’s the support been like from teammates and coaches since the event?

J: The support has been amazing, getting all the texts asking about how she (Samantha) is doing. Coach let me go home right away and everyone’s been amazing and understanding.

R: How can a fans or friends help? Are there donations or support links for families or those affected?

J: There are at least three or four GoFundMe pages, which are going towards the movement to meet with President Trump, going to support the families directly, going to the funeral expenses for victims, and more. There are also wristbands that say “MSD strong” and hats and shirts.

R: If a fan is interested, I’m sure we can do something to provide those links for them. I’m sure hockey is a place of solace and of comfort for you. Has it been helpful having that to go to and get your mind off of what’s happening?

J: It was great to be with my girlfriend for a little while and make sure she’s okay, but it’s nice to be back with the team and get back into the normalcy. Being on the ice with the guys has helped me clear my head a bit and kept me focused.

R: It has to be surreal going back home knowing what happened.

J: Yeah, it was. Honestly though, I’ve never seen a community come together like they have. There have been amazing memorials, students from different schools marching together. The community outreach has been amazing.

R: Jake, thank you again for taking the time to talk about this. If there is anything we as the RoadRunners and fans can do to help or support, make sure to let us know.

J: I will do that. Thank you so much.