9/11: Bellbrook football photo taken days after attacks serves as a reminder of community

BELLBROOK — A Bellbrook photographer’s high school football photo taken a few days after the terrorist attacks 20 years ago gained national recognition and still serves as a reminder of a nation coming together.

“We were a flag flying football team,” said former Bellbrook High School assistant football coach Mark Genders.  “We wanted to not only represent our community, but our country.”

>> 20 years later: List of events honoring lives lost on 9/11

Nick Falzerano took the photo as the Golden Eagles took the field for their Sept. 14 game against Northridge.  It was a game Bellbrook would win 64-10.

Falzerano’s photo would appear in the first Sports Illustrated magazine published after the terror attacks.  It showed current Bellbrook Athletic Director Charlie O’Dell, then high school football player, leading the Varsity squad onto the field carrying a U.S. flag.

Genders said twenty years later the photo still resonates with him and reminds him of the tragedy, but also the importance of remembering the victims.

“Those that fell wouldn’t want us to stop doing, because that gives victory again to the people who did it to us,” Genders said.

Genders, a U.S. veteran, remembers the plan to carry the American flag onto the field coming together quickly.  He and fellow assistant coach Todd Paul wanted to remember the victims.  He remembers there being discussions about whether high school football would even be played that weekend.

“The big debate was were they going to play that week, not play that week,” Genders said.  “We wanted to honor the fallen and play for them.”

So, that is what they did and for Genders it “was very, very emotional.”