Faith Boone broke hard on contact, charging a low liner from her position in left field. No one was surprised to see her dive for the ball. After all, she finished more defensive plays on her chest or backside than she did standing.
Nearby teammates heard her groan as her wrist snapped, but no tears fell. Neither did the ball. It rested in her glove, which popped off her hand when she was unable to close it.
Her teammates rushed to her side to see if she was alright, but Boone only wanted to know why the catch hadn’t been ruled an out. The umpire could say nothing to satisfy the spark plug sophomore who’d just played her final out of the spring for the Mason Dixon Outlaws.
“Softball was her life,” said mother Ashley (Snyder) Boone. “When she broke her wrist in the first softball tournament of the season, it was the longest eight weeks of our lives. She wanted to put a glove over her cast and still go out and play. When she had her soft cast put on, she tried to push it to six weeks. She was determined to get back on that field.”
A sharp-tongued, strong-willed firecracker — more worried about her team recording an out than her fractured right wrist — is how many in the community will remember Boone, whose life was cut short by a car crash last Friday. The 18-year-old would have graduated from Gettysburg Area High School May 31.
Faith’s former teammates plan to huddle one last time before attending her funeral at 2 p.m. Friday in Christ Chapel at Gettysburg College.
“From high school to club and travel ball, we want to remind her that we’re still her teammates,” former Warrior Bri Crushong said. “We want her and her family to know she’ll be missed and that we love her.”
Faith’s rambunctious but radiant personality had only begun to shine through to her softball teammates over the last few years. The abrupt end to that evolution is what made the crash so hard to fathom.
Police allege Jeffrey Gohr, 19, of Gettysburg, failed to obey a stop sign while westbound on Speelman-Klinger Road. Faith was in the front seat in the 2012 Chevrolet Malibu when a Ford F250 pickup hit the passenger side. Boone suffered multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It honestly doesn’t feel real,” said close friend and teammate Jenna Matthews, 20, of Littlestown. “You think about all the memories you had with her. It’s hard to wrap your head around. When you think about it, the wind is knocked out of you.”
Matthews’ thoughts echo those of Faith’s friends and family. Ashley was 17 when Faith was born. Faith’s father, Ronald Boone, died in a motorcycle accident in 2005, only three miles from the spot of his daughter’s final breath. Aaron Shorb, whom Ashley would later marry, became a devoted father figure to Faith and her brother Chris Boone. Faith is also survived by sisters Abigail, Brienna and Autumn Shorb, and maternal grandparents Sherman and Anita Snyder of Gettysburg, among others.
Despite her father’s death, Faith remained interested in motorcycles. As a child, she rode upon the tank of her grandfather’s motorcycle during Gettysburg’s first Parade of Chrome. When Cumberland Township Police stopped the stunt two years later, she cried until they allowed her to move to the back. She’d come home happy, with arms sore from clinging to her pap.
As she matured, Faith dreamed of becoming a nurse or a midwife. She loved working with babies. Accepted to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Faith instead decided to attend Harrisburg Area Community College to stay closer to home and save money.
An active older sister, she loved watching movies and playing games in the yard with her siblings. She loved no game more than softball, which was a part of her life before she’d ever chosen to be a part of it.
THE SOFTBALL LIFE
As an infant, Faith snuggled in the arms of her father or grandparents as they watched her mother play. Ashley, a senior and teenage mother, had returned to the Gettysburg softball team to bat fifth and play left field after giving birth to her daughter.
From the time she was little, Faith looked forward to playing catch with her mother. Shorb laughed as he described his daughters spilling out of the house to join the game.
“What do you want me to do? They want to be out there with you two,” he remembered saying. “They see mom and their sister playing catch. They want to be involved. They don’t want anything to do with dad.”
Former teammate Kaitlin Martin fondly remembers Faith’s mother barking instructions from beyond the fence to her 7-year-old during instructional league games.
Ashley ardently tried to find coachable moments in softball — and life — as Faith aged.
“I wanted her to have a better opportunity than what I had, because I had her when I was 17,” Ashley said. “As she got older, she was frustrated I always compared her to me, but I just wanted her to do better than I did.”
Faith’s grandmother, Anita, said her granddaughter’s looks and fiery demeanor couldn’t have come from anyone but Ashley. Her first softball coach, Max Laing, must have agreed: he assigned Faith her mother’s number during her first rec league season. The number 15 has since been passed down to nine-year-old Brienna and 15-year-old Chris hopes to wear it next year in honor of his sister.
Ashley and Faith eventually became the first mother-daughter duo that Laing would coach at the high school. By the time Faith was a senior, she’d become a captain.
“I could coach Faith like she was my own kid,” Laing said. “She always had questions and wanted to be better, to know the why behind everything.”
When they entered their teenage years, Faith and Martin were among talented players encouraged to join the Mason Dixon Outlaws, a local travel team. Faith, the youngest of the bunch, took some time to show her personality. Once she opened up, her teammates couldn’t get enough.
“She was the most hilarious one on the team,” Matthews said. “We could be down 10 runs and she’s still smiling. I’ll miss her laugh. Once you got her going, she didn’t stop. It was just contagious.”
Faith played like she owned stock in laundry detergent. Her jersey was often dirt-smeared before she’d even made her first plate appearance, Crushong said. She fondly remembered the teammate who smiled even while enduring grueling conditioning drills.
On road trips, Faith’s speaker and playlist blasted tunes that turned the back of the bus into a karaoke studio. From the twangy country Tim McGraw hit “Live Like You Were Dying,” to pop sensations like Fergie’s “Fergalicious,” she sang loudly and without a care. When she found out Martin knew the lyrics to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song, she insisted her friend belt it out along with her.
“She was the life of the party and she was a little spitfire,” Martin said. “If the ump made a bad call, she was never afraid to go to them and start yelling. She stood up for everyone on the team and there wasn’t a position she wouldn’t play.”
Martin came to a Gettysburg game earlier this year to see Faith, but her friend spotted her first, greeting her with a hug and a grin.
“I’m going to miss everything about her,” Martin said. “When I graduated, I knew high school was probably the last time I’d play with her, but I always believed we’d be friends for life. I’ll miss how happy she was to talk to you. No matter what she was going through, she made sure she was lifting you up.”
From her work ethic to her encouragement, Faith was a picture-perfect teammate, said Haley Baum.
“She didn’t care where you came from or what you had, she just cared about the person you are,” Baum said. “You don’t find many people like that now days.”
NO LAST DANCE
The crash occurred the evening of the Gettysburg High School Prom. Faith had not yet begun to get ready for the dance. Ashley said her daughter had texted moments before the time of the crash to find out if her sisters would be there for prom pictures. Ashley responded, but never heard from her daughter again.
Ashley believes Faith and Gohr were on their way to the Boone residence to feed her puppy, a cocker spaniel named Theo. They’d taken a friend to work in Littlestown before making the trip, Ashley said.
“People ask why she cut across that road, but it’s because I did it all the time,” Ashley said. “The girls always loved going by the turkey farm that was there, so we’d always cut that way. You just have to be careful at that stop sign.”
Gohr remained in critical condition at York Hospital Wednesday morning. Ashley said she’s spent several hours on the phone with his mother.
“We talk about how Faith and JJ’s relationship was,” Ashley said. “They’ve been on and off the past two years. We tell stories. It’s been comforting. She knows things I didn’t know and I know other things she didn’t know.”
The family has tried to continue a semblance of a routine. Nine-year-old Brienna wanted to play her softball game in honor of her sister last Friday. Freshman Chris was in the dugout for the Warriors’ game Monday. He’ll be with the team for another home game today before heading to the viewing from 4 to 8 p.m. at Monahan Funeral Home in Gettysburg. A second viewing is planned Friday from noon until the funeral.
Anita, or Memaw, as her granddaughter called her, said Faith will be buried in her favorite dress — a hand-me-down from Ashley.
“Just a few weeks ago she brought it out and said, ‘this is my favorite dress and I can still wear it,’” Anita said. “I said, ‘I guess so, because you haven’t grown any.’ We all laughed, but she didn’t think it was too funny.”
The family sat for a moment, laughing as they savored Faith’s reaction in a long line of short jokes. Her sister had outgrown her when she was seven years her junior. The tears began to fall again, though, as the silence inevitably came.
“If you’re a parent, you should hold your kid a little longer and tighter,” said Shorb. “Cherish even the headaches that they bring us. Every moment matters.”