LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
In life, sports can be used for a variety of things.
To get in shape, or build friendships, or learn about winning and losing.
And some use it to cope with a tragedy.
Travis Burns is one of those people.
Early in the football season, his mother died unexpectedly. The death of a parent is hard enough on an adult, let alone a teenager. Burns could have quit football and no one would have blamed him. But he didn’t. He returned to the Cardinals and helped them earn a spot in the playoffs. And on Thursday, he signed to play football with Eastern Kentucky University.
“Football took my mind off my mom,” Burns said. “It still hurts today, but I always had football to help me through it. Football for me is life.”
“Travis is a fantastic student and football player,” South Laurel coach Larry Welch said. “He does well in the classroom and has worked really hard to get where he is on the field. He had a tough time losing his mom early in the season, but he was able to get through it mentally. He led the team in tackles, was named all-state, all-district and all-mountain. On defense his is our quarterback, he calls all the adjustments. He will be missed.”
Burns said signing to play in college has always been a dream of his since he was six years old, when he first started playing football. While he had Cumberlands, Lindsey Wilson and Western Kentucky looking at him, he eventually choose to become a Colonel.
“Eastern is close to home, not a big school, and I like their style of defense,” Burns said. “I think I will fit in well there.”
Burns said he loves football because it is a fast paced game, a man’s game where you have to be able to take a hit and give one. He also said he knows there are a few things he needs to work on to be a success at Eastern.
“I will have to work hard in the weight room and learn to adjust to the speed of the college game,” Burns said.
When he signed on Thursday, he was flanked by his older brother, Tracie, and Rhonda Hale, the mother of his best friend, Jeffrey. After his mother passed away, Burns moved in with the Hales.
And beside Hale was an empty chair, signifying where his mother would have been sitting. While the chair might have been empty, her presence was felt by those close to Burns. And you can bet she was proud of her son.