In my line of work, watching people play games and then writing about it, you remember things.
You remember players. You remember names. You remember moments. You might not remember all three at the same time, but like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle you can often put a few things together to remember a more complete picture.
Sometimes, the special athletes stay with you for a long time. You watch them grow up. You cover their youth sports experiences. You watch them become stars at the high school level where their athleticism can take them to college. And the special ones … well, if you’re lucky, you might even get to write about them when they reach the pinnacle of their arenas, and get to see them play professional sports.
What could be better than playing sports and getting paid for it? Well, if you ask me, writing about people who play sports is a pretty good gig.
This morning, while going through my usual routine of reading my five or six morning newspapers online, I stumbled across a name from my past.
The name took me back to a place and a past.
The 20th century; Somersworth, New Hampshire; a Little Leaguer with his whole life ahead of him.
The headline, however, left me saddened: “Woman charged in drug death of teacher, coach Bryant Lausberg”
Demons haunt us in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes we beat them. Sometimes they get the better of us.
Sometimes they get the best of us and kill us.
The window in which I covered a young Mr. Lausberg was small. I was gone from New Hampshire long before he reached high school and became a star athlete, one who took his talents to Plymouth State College.
But he loved sports so much he made it his life. He became a physical education teacher and a coach. How many lives in his young career had he already touched, I wondered?
Not enough is the final answer.
According to a report in Foster’s Daily Democrat, Lausberg was found unresponsive in his home by his girlfriend. He was later pronounced dead.
He was 27 years old.
His bio in the Foster’s report filled in the rest of his life.
“Lausberg graduated in 2007 from Somersworth High School, where he played football, hockey and baseball, and was a member of the 2005 Class M state championship baseball team. He is also one of the leading scorers in the Somersworth hockey program’s history with 176 points. He later attended Plymouth State University, where he spent three seasons on the baseball team. As a coach, Lausberg spent one year as a graduate assistant at Plymouth State and coached American Legion baseball for Durand-Haley Post 66 in Plymouth. He was the coach of the Somersworth/Coe-Brown hockey team for two seasons, 2014-16, and he coached Marshwood baseball for one season, in 2015.”
I look at this picture and I can almost see the 12-year-old boy I covered that one summer long ago.
He seemed to be traveling the right roads, doing the right things. But even off the cleanest of roads are dark alleys with passages where you can get lost.
All it takes is one person with a bad batch of drugs and the cruel hand of fate to decide it’s time.
I knew the young and innocent Bryant Lausberg, not the one battling with demons bigger than he could endure.
That’s the boy I’ll always remember — just a flash from a long career filled so many athletes just like him.
His name stayed with me. So too will the final chapter of his story.