On Sept. 12, 2006, Daren LaFayette was working with a crew from Sharp-Line Industries on Flowery Trail Road near Chewelah. In a matter of seconds, the 19-year-old made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the safety of his fellow workers.
Now, a half a decade later, the Riverside Baseball Boosters made sure LaFayette’s sacrifice will always be remembered.
The Riverside School Board last week gave the OK to rename the baseball field in LaFayette’s name.
While on Flowery Trail Road almost five years ago, one of the unattended heavy duty construction trucks suddenly began careening downhill. LaFayette reacted instantly by jumping inside the truck in an unsuccessful attempt to get it under control.
Instead, the truck traveled about a mile downhill before bursting into flame. LaFayette, a 2005 Riverside High School graduate, was killed in the accident.
After the accident, the Riverside football and baseball teams remembered LaFayette by wearing his number (5) on the back of their helmets and ballcaps. It was only after the baseball boosters began to hold the LaFayette Classic three years ago as a fund-raiser did the idea of renaming the baseball field in his honor began to take hold.
“It seemed like a natural fit,” said booster club member Dave Ferguson, who never met LaFayette but heard stories about his strong character.
Ferguson’s oldest son, MacLean, was a few grades below LaFayette at Riverside.
In making the recommendation, Riverside Superintendent Roberta Kramer noted that LaFayette “excelled in every part of his life.”
LaFayette’s mother, Ann Millican, who fought back tears as she spoke at the school board meeting, attributed her son’s character to the friends he made at Riverside and the coaches he played for at the school.
In addition to his athletic exploits, LaFayette also earned the rank of Life Scout during his time with the Boy Scouts.
“Daren was a product of our community,” she said, “not just his home.”
LaFayette’s stepfather, David Milllican, did not speak to the school board but wore one of the old Riverside ballcaps with the No. 5 on the back.
The LaFayette Classic started as a nine-hole golf tournament at Antler Springs and has steadily expanded to include horseshoe, pool, dart and shuffleboard tournaments. This year’s event also included live music.
The booster club has used the proceeds from the Classic to make improvements at the RHS ballfield, including placing a hitting background on the centerfield fence and painting the foul poles and dugouts.
A current project is the construction of an enclosed batting cage to allow the Rams to get some hitting work in on those early season days that are traditionally cold and sometimes snowy.
Ferguson said the booster club would also like to install a public address system at the field along with building a concession stand and nearby lockerrooms.
The formal dedication of Daren LaFayette Field is planned for the Rams’ first home game next spring.