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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Akron Mourning Loss of Johnny Fiebelkorn

Life lessons. We learn them every single day. Some are tough to understand. Others, go without saying. Last weekend the Akron football team learned a lesson that many of us take for granted, life isn’t fair. They found out in the most tragic of ways. Johnny Fiebelkorn, a hard-working, thoughtful, kind young man passed away early Saturday morning.

Fiebelkorn should be starting his Senior year next week. On Wednesday he will be laid to rest at the Ross Funeral Home. On Thursday, he should be huddling up with his teammates in preparation of this weekend’s football game at Roy-Hart. Instead, family, friends, coaches and teammates will say their goodbye’s.

Life isn’t fair.

As many are still trying to come to grips with the loss of such a good kid the community is pulling together. The football and wrestling communities as well as the Town of Akron have been sending their love and support to the family in a variety of ways over the past few days. That will continue.

Fiebelkorn was the most accomplished wrestler in Akron school history with still another season to go. He began his career at the Lockport Kids Wrestling Club where Joe Scapelliti (long-time and recently retired Lockport HS Coach) was an instructor and mentor.

“Johnny was a great ambassador for the sport of wrestling throughout Section VI,” Scapelliti said. “This is going to be devastating for the entire area, Johnny was just a great kid. He had a great level of humility and sportsmanship about him that you don’t often see.”

His parents Rusty and Lori were major contributors to the Lockport organization and helped Akron launch a wrestling club of their own, Scapelliti said. “The entire family is heavily involved and were there for us when we were rebuilding our club. This is so heart breaking, I just can’t imagine.”

Johnny or “Fiebs” as he was affectionately known by his friends was one of those student-athletes that didn’t just talk, he led by examples. Whether that was in the classroom or becoming actively involved in student matters and being voted on as a captain of the football and wrestling teams, Johnny was there and did it the right way.

Tigers Varsity wrestling coach Dan Klonowski was one of the many taking the news hard. “What made him a great young man wasn’t his sports accomplishments but how he carried himself every day” Klonowski said. “He was respectful to his peers and adults, dedicated and focused yet also had an amazing smile and sense of humor. He was always very warm and inviting and the humblest superstar I’ve had the honor of knowing.” Klonowski added “He was a 6-year varsity starter, 4-time captain, a state tournament representative 3 times and the absolute hardest working kid in the practice room and on the mat. He was the epitome of a true leader. The entire 2017-18 season will be dedicated in his honor.  His teammates that he leaves behind are absolutely devastated with the loss of their friend and leader. His memory and impact will extend forever in the hearts and minds of those who knew him.  And I will always miss my friend, Johnny.”

Family and friends prepared a roadside memorial where the accident happened, teammates and coaches have been gathering regularly to pay their respects. On Sunday Coach Klonowski opened his home to welcome grievers.

Varsity football coach Andy Clouse said that the team has been together coping with the tragedy as best they can. The team held a practice on Tuesday and will work in the weight room Wednesday and a walk-through Thursday in preparation for Friday night’s game. “We’re a close knit group and obviously with a person such as Johnny the news is especially hard to take.” Clouse said on Saturday morning as news began to spread. “The goal is to play Friday but it’s not going to be easy,” Clouse said on Wednesday.

“I’ve been playing sports with Johnny for as far back as I can remember,” teammate and close friend Jacob Sarow said. “I sat next to him every day, our lockers for football and wrestling have always been next to one another. The day it happened, we all met at the locker room early and just sat there. For three hours nobody talked. We’ve been together every day, all day since. On Monday the team had about an hour long conversation about what we want to do and how we should go forward with the game. We want to play for him and we believe that’s what he would want too.”

Sarow could hardly talk on Monday when I reached out, understandably so. Today, we had a chance to catch up. The pain is real, it’s still there but like the community that is rallying behind them, time will help heal the heart, one day at a time.

“As good a wrestler Johnny was, he was an even better son,” Russ Fiebelkorn, Johnny’s Father said.

****Photos Courtesy of Jacob Sarow****

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