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Rebel resilience: Remembering Columbine High School’s 1999 football season

1999 was a year of heartache for the Columbine High School community. There was, however, an exception one afternoon six months after the tragedy that was filled with joy and celebration.

LITTLETON, Colo. — They are often referred to as the “Glory Days.” High school years, when responsibilities are limited, social activities are abundant and school pride is a very real thing.

Columbine High School was a typical American high school until that day twenty years ago. Nothing would be ordinary again. Funerals took place just before graduation. And underclassmen had to accept a new reality and a new future.      

During the summer months, the football team started off-season workouts where weight-lifting and running drills were often interrupted by outbursts of grief.

Sophomore football player Matthew Kechter was killed in the shootings. He was a linebacker, a straight-A student, and a funny and kind friend.

During Matthew’s funeral this message was shared; “The greatest gift of remembrance you can give Matt is finding the courage and the strength to rebuild your school and your community. Rebels: Play with dignity and honor next year for Matthew, your team and your school.”   

The football season of 1999 became one that will be forever remembered. We talked with many members of the team as they recalled a season of “Rebel Restoration.”   

You can watch the full story in the video above. 

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