PRAIRIE GROVE -- A banner featuring photo memories from the life of Jarren Sorters, who would have been a senior this year, hung on the wall as Prairie Grove celebrated senior night Friday.
Jarren, who passed Aug. 11, 2016 one month shy of his 15th birthday, was represented by his parents, Joey and Donna Sorters, at the invitation of the senior class during the ceremony.
Senior Garrett Heltemes felt recognizing Jarren at a basketball game was appropriate. The two played basketball together in fourth through seventh grade.
"Probably with basketball, it's the first thing that comes to mind sincce this is a basketball game. it's just kind of like the last home game of my class reminds me so much of him," Heltemes said.
Jake Watson treasures memories of recess, playground football with Jarren. Jarren was known as a fierce competitor and even on the playground things got heated.
"We fought every single day," Watson said.
Then right after the pick-up game, the boys would go to each other and patch things up.
"Oh man, I'm sorry, it was a good game," the apologies were mutual.
Watson admires Jarren's capacity to reconcile friendship.
"It was really cool that he had such a hot temper and was able to come back from it so quickly and to become your friend again," Watson said. "To see his poster up there it was really cool to let people know that he's not forgotten."
Brandon LeDuc's best memory of Jarren comes from fifth grade, pee wee football. The pee wee Tigers were running one of the staple plays of their offense, a tight end dump with time about to expire against Siloam Springs. Jarren was playing quarterback and LeDuc was the target receiver.
"He threw me that ball. It was a perfect pass right here," LeDuc said looking at his hands. "I ran the thing all the way into the end zone. We won right there. It was tied 6-6 and he won the game for us."
Heltemes, who has made quite a name for himself as an athlete, described Jarren in that same category.
"He was a star athlete," Heltemes said.
Jarren's resolve flying in the face of battling sarcoma and having his leg amputated inspires Heltemes, who continues to refer to Jarren in the present tense -- his friend and classmate's personality accompanying and inspiring his former teammates.
"He is a fighter. That's the first word that comes to my mind whenever I think of Jarren is he has been through so much, still fought through it and could walk with the prosthesis. That's crazy to me. He never gave up, that's just crazy."
Watson returned a kickoff for a touchdown during the football season and said he thinks about Jarren and how he would have been proud of that feat and is even aware of it.
"Weirdly enough, yeah," Watson said explaining he had just told Donna Sorters about one of the last text conversations he had with Jarren.
As a freshman, Watson suffered a broken leg and Jarren saved him a spot next to him at the Gentry game.
"We got to spend the whole game together in the end zone," Watson said. "Whenever I would get my hands on the ball or anything like that -- I feel like he was looking, like watching us play football. Like when he was still there every single home game he was there in the end zone supporting us and there's a whole bunch of pictures to prove it."
Watson breaks into a big smile recalling Jarren's influential personality.
"He had the quirkiest grin and laugh. It was super noticeable and so I have found myself if I'm down or anything like that I look through his pictures sometimes and I think about his laugh and his smile, very noticeable grin and that's a big one."
LeDuc doesn't remember any exact quotes from Jarren, but recalls Jarren would always says stuff to pick him up when he was down.
"If I'm down on myself, he'd be like, 'you're doing good, don't even worry about it. I got your back.' He'd always have my back," LeDuc said.
Jarren's classmates resolve to carry on his memory.
"We just don't want him to be forgotten," Watson said.
Sports on 02/13/2019
Print Headline: Sorters Family Honored On Senior Night