FORT MITCHELL, Ky. — How do you measure the impact of a life?
Last summer, a football player at Beechwood High School in Northern Kentucky saw his whole world change in one devastating instant.
In some ways, though, there may be more questions than answers.
"I have stuck to this – I don't know. We don't know what happened. We probably won't really ever know,” explained Beechwood senior Artie Steinmetz.
He still remembers the morning of July 3, 2020.
"I can't even put it into words. [My dad] came in my room and said, ‘You need to get out of bed,’” he recalled.
Steinmetz will never forget hearing his father tell him that his mom, Danielle Steinmetz, had died unexpectedly in her sleep.
"I write her initials and 'Mom' on my wrist tape,” said Steinmetz.
Taking the football field for Beechwood every Friday night, Steinmetz kept his mother's memory on his arm.
Even though, on senior night, his mother couldn't be there to walk him to midfield – that’s the night he realized her spirit was still alive.
"I was the last senior in line,” said Steinmetz. “Coach [Noel] Rash walked up to my dad and said, ‘I'm going to walk with you.'”
Rash then elaborated and pointed to the other seniors. “We are going to walk with you.”
In honor of his mother, every senior football player circled back and walked Artie onto the field.
"I was crying,” he said. “We were walking across the field [and I was] tearing up."
Three months later, his mother's presence would be felt on a football field once more – this time, in the state championship.
In a tie game, as time ran off the clock, the opposing team lined up to kick a potential game-winning field goal. The ball hit off the upright and the crossbar, before falling to the turf -- no good.
Minutes later, in double-overtime, Beechwood was up by a point when Artie’s teammate, Brady Moore, blocked an extra point.
That’s how Beechwood won the state championship.
"We won that game and I looked at Coach Rash,” recalled Steinmetz. “[Coach Rash] grabbed my wrist and pointed to her initials. We looked at each other and we were looking up.”
It was a seemingly impossible end to the game and season. Artie knew, though, it wasn’t a miracle. It was ‘Mom’.
“That's how I know she’s right there,” he said, while pointing up. “I don’t need to worry about anything. She's going to get me.”
So how do you measure the impact of a life?
"I don't know where I would be if she was never my mom,” said Steinmetz.
It’s not measured through time, but instead through appreciation – and that lasts forever.