Coming Home

March 4, 2017

Participating in sports has the potential to change high school student-athletes’ lives—both for better and worse. Getting involved in a team fight during a football game led Antrayel Horton, a sophomore at Aiken (Ohio) High School, to be suspended.

“We were blowing them out at halftime, beating them pretty bad and things were starting to get chippy… very physical,” Horton told “There was a team fight… I got suspended from school and for the football season.”

After that, Horton ended up leaving home and getting arrested. He was sent to a residential center.

“I went to Paint Creek for carrying a concealed weapon,” Horton told “I’m actually thankful I went there, cause going there it wasn’t just like jail, you had a counselor you talked to every day and you had people that were like, ‘What did you do in the past? And how can we help you so when you return home you don’t make those same decisions? You can do something better.’”

Along with keeping up with high school classes while he was at Paint Creek, Horton stayed in contact with the athletic program. This connection made the decision to return easy.

“The person that was always there for me was my mom,” Horton told “Our athletic trainer, her name’s Sarah (Passe), she was always writing me, ‘Hey, we’re here for you, if you need anything.’ That’s why, honestly, when I came back home I knew without a doubt I wasn’t going anywhere but Aiken. I knew I was coming here.”

Upon his return, Passe suggested taking up wrestling. It isn’t his favorite sport—football is—but it gives him an outlet for pent up energy and emotion.

“Antrayel looks at an opponent on the mat as what he had to deal with for the last two years,” Tristan Young, Aiken wrestling coach, told “He looks at that as his struggle. He doesn’t look at it as an opponent, he looks at it like that was his life. For the last 15-plus months, he just gets to go out there and tussle with somebody and not get in trouble.”

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