Helix community staying united amid La Mesa protests
The sun shines on the Helix Charter campus, with no students there to bask in it. But in these times, just knowing his football players are safe and sound from coronavirus – and protesting that turned to rioting in La Mesa – is enough for head coach Robbie Owens to still enjoy a much quieter outdoors.
“Our guys are going through so much right now,” Owens said. “Going through the quarantine, not being in school, not knowing what’s going on with our football season. But to have what happened with George Floyd…it puts everything in perspective.”
“I was thinking about if that was my brother, uncle, one of my former players…our guys are going through a lot of emotion.”
The same can be said for much of the county. As of Monday night, protesters still lurked through downtown and East county, with no end in sight. Helix coaches have extra jobs these days – counselors, consultants, and gatekeepers. The students have a reinforced job – ambassadors. What they do now, from marching to mayhem, comes with a label.
“I posted a thing on Twitter about this,” Owens said. “We take the tradition of the bagpipes and holding hands and walking onto that field….it’s a huge tradition, but it means more than that. When we get together, its about representing something bigger than that.”
It’s something Owens has felt since he walked on campus in 2016.
“When I came to Helix, it was different,” Owens said. “The atmosphere and culture are different. We have people from all over San Diego and different walks of life. We can rally around that idea of representation. There are things happening around this world that make us sick to our stomach, but when we come together, we can make the world a better place.”
In a time of unexpected moments, Owens did have one break of sunlight comparable to the rays of the Helix garden he’s sitting in. On a Sunday morning visit to the charred remains of vandalism, he saw several of his players helping out with the cleanup.
“That was one of the unique experiences I’ve had,” Owens said.