The Man with a Smile



When I was in eighth grade, I decided to join my school’s soccer team. I thought, why not?

Most of my friends were on the team and they had raved about how great the coach was, they weren’t wrong. At least once a week Coach Fred would bring us Oreos and Gatorade. Once we got farther into the season, he realized that I was the only one who liked the orange Gatorade, so he would bring me my own.

Being a group of chatty and loud 13-year old-girls, he never lost his patience with us; he taught us everything we knew. Being new to the sport, I was the one who needed the most work, and he never lost his patience with me whenever I lost my patience with myself. He would put his arm around me and tell me that he knew how hard of a worker I was and that he knew I could do whatever I put my mind to. I know that sounds like super cheesy stuff, but to a unsure 13-year-old girl, that’s the world.

Even after the season he would check up on us make sure we were happy and doing well. I don’t think I ever saw that man without a smile. People would describe him as the happiest man they knew, or that he was their favorite person.

So nothing prepared me for that summer when both of my parents came home from work in the middle of the day, sat me down on the living room couch and told me he had killed himself. He left behind two small children, a job, a wife and tons of people who loved him like he was family.

Depression affects 20-25 percent of people above of the age of 18 in a given year. And 80-90 percent of people who seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or medication.

So, if you see the warning signs of someone who is depressed or seems depressed, make sure to find help, because you could lose someone who you may never even think you could lose. Also, if you have ever had these thoughts, remember that there are so many people out there that need you and love you whether you see it or not.

Lastly, I want to leave you with two things:

  1. When you tell someone to “kill themselves,” or you say “I might just kill myself,” even if you’re saying it as a joke, don’t.
  2. Tell the people that you love that you love them. You’d be surprised the impact just one small act can make.

RIP Fred Laino

coach fred