The teachers and coaches in our lives make an indelible impression on the students. They are a close-knit part of our community and lives. When one is lost, it is a heartbreaking event for everyone in the town. The community of Freehold New Jersey felt an incredible blow with the sudden loss of Richard Hartman, a teacher, coach and mentor.
There is always a time of grieving during a loss. Emotions typically run the gamut. Getting through the loss and turning it into a positive direction is part of the human experience. The staff, alumni, students and families of Clifton T. Barkalow Middle School made the decision to do just that. They came together as a single unit to ensure that the devotion and love that Hartman shared with his school and town would not be forgotten. The memorial would be created with a new school scoreboard.
The school council and Parent Teacher Organization began fundraising plans for a new school sports scoreboard to honor Richard Hartman. A soccer game in memorial, combined with bake sales and personal donations started the process. Game attendees wore tie-dye t-shirts sold by the PTO in support of the event. Hartman favored tie-dye and the number of fans that turned out was an astounding tribute to him. The team members showed pride in playing a game for their friend and coach. The school hosted a concert and bake event, complete with music performed in honor of Hartman in the style of a coffee-house setting.
Support from the school and community continued and the scoreboard dedication was held, with Richard Hartman’s name memorialized on the board. The moment and time was shared by friends and Hartman’s family. The soccer team captains came forward to present a memorial plaque for Richard J. Hartman and offered their feelings about their beloved coach. It was apparent that Hartman had an impact on the lives of his teams. Each speaker talked about the lessons that were learned and his overall influence in giving them the reasons to be not only better players but how to live their lives as better people.
Hartman always had a saying that he gave to each and every student and team member: “Play clean, play hard, and play your best”. Tom Hartman, Richard’s brother, thanked all of those that showed their support for his brother. He honored his brother by stating the quote just before the memorial game started.
The scoreboard now appears high and large, for all to see. The colors are brilliant, the score areas crisp and sharp. Everyone who enters sees the deep blue tone and the tastefully printed line “Dedicated in the memory of Richard Hartman”. The scoreboard is an integral part of every game and event. Students, fans and team members will have games that may be won or lost, but no one will ever forget the life lessons given to them by their teacher and coach.
Clifton T. Barkalow Middle School has honored their coach well.