Opinion: A hero for life


Commentary by Ward Degler

The first thing Jason Seaman will tell you is that he is not a hero. Even if he did thwart a school shooting last May. Even if he did save lives. And even if he got shot in the process.

“If I let 15 minutes on May 25, 2018 define me as a person, then I have failed as a person,” the Noblesville West Middle School coach and science teacher told the audience at the Hamilton County Prayer Breakfast May 17.

Seaman went on to say that not only is he not a hero, but “who I am is still being worked out every day. It’s a lifelong process.” 

That defining process took a sharp, unexpected turn when Seaman was a junior in high school.

“I was a gifted athlete,” he said. “All-State football and basketball. Seven Big Ten universities were offering me scholarships. My goal in life was to play Big Ten football, and it was all coming true.”

And then, there was that ill-fated basketball game.

“I jumped up to get a rebound, and when I came down my knee was destroyed,” he said.

What followed was extensive surgery and long months of painful rehab.

“And all the scholarship offers vanished,” he said.

With unexpected time on his hands, Seaman did a lot soul-searching.

“I realized that I had been totally selfish. I didn’t even recognize the support that others had given me – my family, teachers, coaches and my physical therapist,” he said. “It was all about me.”

That was when Seaman decided he wanted to be a teacher.

“I wanted a chance to give to others the way others had given to me,” he said.

During the 2018 shooting, a 13-year-old student entered the classroom with

a gun and opened fire. A female student was wounded, and Seaman was shot three times while wrestling the shooter to the floor.

“That’s not what people will remember about me,” he said. “They will remember how I treat others every day – my family, my kids, my students. They’ll remember those things because that’s who I am. The impact my life has on others is not a one-day event. It’s a lifetime pursuit.”

He added that the same is true for all of us, and he challenged the audience to think about ways each one of us is influencing those in our lives.

“It’s important,” he said. “The little things you do for others can make a big difference.”

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