Caring for Crim: Youth football players lift coach's spirits after grandmother passes away
PASCO, Wash. -- See ball, get ball.
That's how Rudell Crim played the game of football all his life. Fever faithful remember the man who wore the dark visor and number 21 as the "Crim Reaper".
But to the Pasco Youth Football Longhorns, he's simply known as Coach Crim. These days, Crim no longer covers receivers.
Instead, he covers the sideline, teaching nine-year-old's how to become young men through the sport he loves.
"I've never realized that I can be a positive role model into someone else life until actually coaching and working in a community now and I feel like all you got to do is go out and just give them a chance of hope," said Longhorns Assistant Coach Rudell Crim.
"He's the best coach in the world. I can't imagine a better coach than him," said Longhorns defensive lineman Tanner Kloth.
"Teaches us to have respect to not only him but to other people and other coaches," said Longhorn player Lane Hedrick.
Every player can depend on their number one fan. For Rudell, that special person is his grandma Frances.
"Every Saturday I called her and she always wished the guys good luck," said Crim.
The weekly phone calls to Rudell's hometown in Florida were never missed even though Frances had been fighting pancreatic cancer.
Less than two months ago, she passed away at the age of 76. But of course Coach Crim stayed strong.
"He just held it in and taught us what we needed to know," said Kloth.
September 29th is Grandma Frances's birthday and after finishing practice on this day, the boys didn't leave the field until they celebrated the life of the woman who made their coach the man he is today.
The team released balloons to pay respect and one by one, each player latched onto Crim for a group hug.
"I don't even have any words that can express exactly how I was feeling at that moment. I just became overwhelmed and I haven't had that feeling since I've been back home in Florida," said Crim.
"We're all brothers. We treat each other like brothers. We act like we're brothers. We're all family," said Kloth.
Before the next game, the Longhorns organization took it one step further.
Pink and purple balloons set to be released, bringing attention to cancer awareness.
"I could definitely still feel her being with me step by step even when I want to get down about her being not here with us today, it still gives me that extra motivation knowing that she's right here beside me," said Crim.
Because in Rudell's heart, she never left.