Goodman continued his football dream
Carnell Goodman had dreamed of getting a football scholarship and was playing semi-pro football to make that dream come true.
That dream ended tragically Tuesday when the Lehigh Senior High School graduate was fatally injured on Jaguar Boulevard when he lost control and veered into another car, according to troopers.
Goodman, 20, had graduated from Lehigh in 2018 after playing four years for the Lightning. Still looking to play and hoping he could attract interest from a college, he joined the Florida Stingrays semi-pro football team last season, instantly becoming a starting offensive lineman.
Jay Lawrence, CEO of the Stingrays, tried to fight back tears as he talked about Goodman.
“It’s a tough loss for the team. He was the kind of kid you build a franchise around. Besides the football, we do a lot of community work,” Lawrence said. “He was the kid who was always there and very interactive, loving to do that stuff.”
As a football player, Lawrence said he was always at practice ready to work, regardless of what was happening in his life.
“A lot of players have a lot of different things going on, but they still want to chase that dream. It’s hard to get the full team to practice. But he was one of those who was always there,” Lawrence said.
The team gathered for a practice Sunday and spent much of the time talking about Carnell and what they could do to dedicate the season to him.
Chris Morant, head coach of the Stingrays, said he connected with Goodman as he was graduating high school and asked if he was interested in continuing his football career.
Goodman started on the offensive line and played some on defense and showed a real desire to be a leader on and off the field. He was getting ready for his second season with the team.
“We saw him last week and he was so excited about the upcoming season. We’re really going to miss him,” Morant said.
While Goodman looked menacing on the offensive line, in truth he was one of those teammates who would keep things loose with a joke or a laugh.
Morant said the team will give a Carnell Goodman Character Award to a player or players who demonstrate good character and leadership.
“He would always go back to his school and talk to them. He was a high-character person and leader on and off the field,” Morant said.
Messages of grief were posted on the Stingray’s Facebook page. Quarterback Kyle Ray expressed his shock Thursday.
“Wow just got the worst news, Lost a teammate a friend and a brother today, RIP Carnell Goodman Jr. you were such a joy to be around always laughing and joking, just a great dude to be around, my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends you will be missed. Fly high and this seasons all for you brother,” Ray wrote.
Ray said the whole team was stunned by Goodman’s death, having been with him before his death, laughing and having fun after practice.
“It was a big surprise to everyone. He was a good kid who stayed out of trouble. He was heavily into the church, he missed a few games and practices because of it,” Ray said. “He was fun to be around. Always laughing, always upbeat.”
The Stingrays, who will play their home games this season at Moody Field on the campus of North Fort Myers High School, will dedicate this season in Goodman’s memory and plan to do something special for him at their first home game early in 2020. The schedule has not been released.
Ray said the team will miss his presence, but understands the season must go on.
“Any time you lose a teammate and family member, it’s a loss. He was a great player, but at the end of the day we still have a task at hand,” Ray said. “You have to go out and play and get the job done.”
Visitation will be Friday, Oct. 25, from 5 to 7 p.m. at James C. Boyd Funeral Home, 2966 Martin Luther King Blvd., Fort Myers. Homegoing services will be Saturday, Oct. 26, at 11 a.m. at St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church, 2182 Mitchell Court, Fort Myers.