'I was just helping kids': Hometown hero Jason Seaman throws ceremonial pitch in St. Louis

MAHOMET — Very easily, Jason Seaman's story could have turned into a tragic one instead of the one that's ended with national recognition, on-field acknowledgment at professional sports games, and a happy life with his wife, 2-year-old son and 2-month-old daughter.

Bob Seaman has had nightmares in which it all went wrong, where his son, a seventh-grade teacher at Noblesville (Ind.) West Middle School, didn't succeed in stopping a student with two loaded handguns from killing him and his students, one of whom survived after she was shot seven times.

Those thoughts inevitably seep into his and his wife, Kristi's, thoughts from time to time.

Jason Seaman, though, has refused to dwell on those thoughts, even as he lay in a hospital bed the night of the shooting, two bullets lodged in his arm and hip, where they'll likely remain, and one removed from his abdomen after tackling the shooter and saving the lives of his students.

"I told him that he really scared me and his quote, I'll never forget, he said, 'Quit thinking about the what ifs and start thinking about the what is,'" Kristi Seaman said. "I thought, 'Yeah, that's right.'"

The public recognition began almost immediately, from national media coverage to a tweet from President Donald Trump thanking him for his actions. A few weeks later, the fan mail began flowing in.

"It's weird when you go to your mailbox and there's a letter from Montana, and you know you don't know anyone from Montana," he said during an interview at his parents' house in Mahomet.

"It's just a simple thank you note, and it brightens your day," Jason Seaman said.

As a coach and teacher at Noblesville West for the last four years, Seaman has long been somewhat of a known figure around town. The national recognition, though, has caught him off guard.

"I was just helping kids who need to be helped," he said. "To get all this attention for just doing what's right, to me, it seems like it's over-the-top, and I know people just wanted to show their appreciation and they have their different ways, their different avenues of doing that. But as a teacher, I signed on to help kids, and on that day, it was no different. I was helping kids, but in a different fashion."

Seaman has always shied away from the spotlight. During his decorated football career at Mahomet-Seymour and Southern Illinois, where he played on the defensive line, he rarely sought attention.

On Friday, days after he was cleared for normal physical activity, he took center stage at Busch Stadium when he threw out the first pitch before the St. Louis Cardinals' game against the Atlanta Braves.

He'll do so again at a Cubs game later this summer. He'll also be recognized at games by the Chicago Bears, the Los Angeles Rams and Indy Eleven, a second-division soccer team. He has also been booked as the grand marshal at Southern Illinois' homecoming parade.

Despite the awkwardness, Seaman is learning to enjoy some of the fruits of his newfound fame, at least a little. In a few months, though, he knows he'll recede into something that resembles his normal life. And that's exactly the way he wants it.

"Things will work their way back into being normal, and I'll just be teacher and coach, and I won't be the public face or whatnot anymore," he said. "I'll have the ties in the community. I love those, I want to strengthen those. That's what I love doing."

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