The small town of Henning has celebrated the life of 16-year-old Jacob Quam, a sophomore killed in a car crash last week, in many different ways.
The basketball team placed a cross at the crash site and said a prayer. They wore team colors to Monday's funeral. Students at Underwood placed a "Pray for Jacob Quam" sign across a fence at a field. Others gathered at Henning High School to play several games of pickup basketball in honor of Jacob.Hundreds of family and friends gathered at the Henning High School on Sunday and Monday to mourn the tragic death. More than 200 people attended the visitation on Sunday, while many more attended the funeral on Monday at a packed Henning High School gymnasium.
Quam died on April 13 when the 2005 Chevrolet Impala he was driving collided with a 2012 Freightliner semi near Vining in Otter Tail County.
After a private service Sunday, Quam's basketball coach and Henning Activities Director Randy Misegades took Jacob's teammates to the crash site to place the cross. On Thursday, Misegades sent out a text message inviting people to play pickup basketball in Jacob's honor. He didn't know how many would play, but he thought it would help the grieving process and knew it was what Jacob would have wanted. More than 30 people showed up and played basketball games in multiple gymnasiums.
"I still haven't been able to process it fully," Misegades said. "I keep thinking he's going to walk through the door of the gym. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it."
The only boys team Henning High School has that is not part of a co-op is the basketball team.
"Basketball is just a little different," Misegades said. "It was a pretty tight-knit group."
Quam's uncle came to play pickup games, along with some of Quam's former teammates, who had graduated high school and were home from college. There was no school Friday, but Misegades opened the gym again.
"He was going (to the weight room) to make himself better," Misegades said. "He was a coach's dream. I know as his coach I am not supposed to have a favorite, but Jake was definitely a kid you couldn't help but love.
"He was on track to do great things. He wouldn't allow himself to fail, whether it was in athletics, as a student, as a son or as a friend. I love him as if he were my own son. A little piece of our hearts went with him."
Quam was a key member of the Ottertail Central Bulldogs football team. He helped the Bulldogs on defense, playing a vital role on the defensive line.
"Nobody outworked Jacob in football practice or the classroom," OTC football coach Eric Olson said. "He had great character and modeled what a student-athlete should be. Our Bulldog family, student body and communities are heartbroken about Jacob's passing."
Quam's football and basketball teammates did not lift during that meeting Thursday in the weight room. The weight on their shoulders of the death of their teammate was something no person could lift.
A lesson Misegades so often brings up to his basketball team is to handle what they can control. When he said the team is in control of two things in the meeting, his players responded by saying, "Attitude and effort."
"We talked about not wasting days because you're not guaranteed the next one," Misegades said. "Whether it's family, or school or life or anything, put forth your best effort and come with a good attitude every single day because you aren't guaranteed another one.
"Jacob was a prime example of that. He had the best attitude and effort every single day."