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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Remembering Jared Lorenzen in his most important role: dad

Jared Lorenzen with kids, Taylar and Tayden. Kentucky Sports Radio, Dr. Michael Huang. 

By G. Michael Graham 

Since his passing eight days ago, a lot has understandably been written about Jared Lorenzen's athletic achievements, most notably on the football field.

The 1999 Highlands graduate set high standards during his days at Highlands and the University of Kentucky. I never saw him play at Highlands. But in 2001, I became the Sports Editor at the Commonwealth Journal in Somerset, Kentucky and saw him play a number of times as a redshirt sophomore and junior at UK.

My fondest memory came in the 2002 season opener in Louisville in the Governor's Cup. The Louisville Cardinals led by quarterback Dave Ragone had high hopes of crushing the Bowl Championship Series that year. But Lorenzen and company crashed the Louisville party instead winning 22-17.

That team finished 7-5 making something out of a season when the Wildcats were not bowl eligible. The Wildcats could have had a better record had they finished some of the games such as the last-second "Miracle in the Bluegrass" loss to Louisiana State, 33-30.

But since I moved to Northern Kentucky in August, 2012, I had the pleasure of getting to know Lorenzen in another big role as a parent. Lorenzen always came to see his daughter Taylar, who will be a senior this fall, play softball. She was an eighth grader the last time Highlands won the region championship in 2016.

Jared Lorenzen and his family have had plenty to cheer about watching Taylar and the Highlands softball team in recent years. The program owns two 9th Region championships and has won the 36th District championship the previous two years.

As a sophomore in the 36th District championship win over Dayton in 2018, Taylar Lorenzen fell one hit shy of hitting for the cycle going 3-for-3 with a three-run home run, single, double and two runs scored. The Bluebirds needed every single hit in the 10-7 win that saw Dayton score five runs in the top of the seventh to make it interesting. Taylar earned the 36th District All-Tournament Most Valuable Player award that season.

I'm sure Jared let out a huge cheer when Taylar hit the go-ahead solo home run in the top of the seventh inning to put Highlands up 3-2 on Dixie Heights in the 9th Region semifinals at Beechwood just six weeks ago Wednesday. Taylar went 1-for-2 in that game. She finished with five doubles on the season.

Unfortunately for the Bluebirds, Dixie Heights rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh to record a 4-3 win. The Lady Colonels ended up winning the region.

I walked out to the parking lot after the game and saw Jared. We talked about the importance of not letting other peoples' misgivings become ours in what would be our last conversation.

When my wife called me on July 3 to tell me Jared passed, I could not help but think of his kids Taylar and Tayden. They didn't deserve to lose their dad at such young ages.

My wife lost her dad when she was 21. Not a day passes when I don't wonder what it would have been like to meet the man who would have been my father-in-law.

Taylar saw how much her dad loved athletics at a young age and has developed her own internal love for softball. One thing Jared told me is he would never push his kids to put time into something they don't love such as athletics. Unfortunately, some people lose sight of that in today's world.

We're still a few years away from seeing if Tayden will make any marks at Highlands athletically. But videos over the years showed the two of them throwing mini footballs around so you never know.

After letting out some more tears at Jared's visitation on Wednesday, I met his immediate family including the parents. I told them I'm there for them.

But the time at St. Pius Catholic Church did end on a positive note. I saw Taylar and she talked about the day being a happy day and not a sad one. That speaks volumes for someone who just lost her father.

She's right. From what I knew about Jared, he would not want everyone sad forever. He'd want us to move on and become lights to others in such a dark world. He was definitely that.

Jared Lorenzen was one of the nicest men I've ever met. For that, his life in all facets deserves to be celebrated.....


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