By Sophie Kidd
The field that Chase Prasnicki and Andrew Ross once dominated in high school will soon be renamed Prasnicki-Ross Field and Veteran Stadium in their honor.
After Prasnicki graduated in 2006 and Ross in 2007, they pursued military careers. Both men died in combat in Afghanistan from improvised explosive devices. Prasnicki passed away in 2012 and Ross in 2018.
Rockbridge County Schools Superintendent Philip Thompson said he and other community members have wanted to honor Prasnicki and Ross for a while, but never knew how. The school board voted unanimously on Tuesday to dedicate the athletic complex to them.
School Board member Kathy Burant said she knew Ross and Prasnicki from her time as a as a teacher, parent, athletic director and assistant principal at the high school.
“They’re great kids. And I think the more opportunities we have to demonstrate to our youth and our community what kind of students they were, what kind of people they were, what kind of leaders they were, and especially what kind of men they were in military and in death, the better,” she said.
Prasnicki was quarterback and captain of the football team.
Jason White, Prasnicki’s coach, said that the young man never shied away from adversity on the field.
“My first year as head coach, I was a 26-year-old rookie being led by an 18-year-old young man who taught me more than I ever taught him,” he said.
White said Prasnicki’s defining moment occurred in his sophomore year when he led his team to victory during a fourth down with less than a minute left in a game against rival Fort Defiance.
With no open receiver, Prasnicki tucked the ball, dodged defenders and made it to the end zone to win the game. Prasnicki told his coaches after the game that he didn’t realize that it was fourth down.
“Putting your body on the line like that on a fourth down play—not everyone would do that— but that was what Chase was going to do on any play just for his team to win,” White said.
Ross was a talented soccer player and captain of the team.
David Miller was a coach at the high school and close friends with Ross’s family at the time. His son Michael played with Ross and was one of his best friends.
When the soccer team struggled during Ross’ senior year, David Miller said Ross pushed the team to do their best. By the end of the season, the boys were inseparable, he said.
First from Rockbridge County High School
Prasnicki was the first student from Rockbridge High School to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point. Ross became the second a year later.
At West Point, Prasnicki played football, and Ross was on the soccer team.
On a Barstool Sports podcast Zero Blog Thirty, Prasnicki’s teammate Carson Williams recalled Prasnicki’s first day of practice at West Point. He said when the coach asked for someone to turn off the lights in the locker room, Prasnicki sprinted over to the switch and back to his seat. His eagerness earned him the nickname “Nitro” for the next four years.
When Prasnicki was deployed in 2012, he volunteered to go out on a mission on his third day in Afghanistan. While he was on patrol, his vehicle drove over an IED and was killed.
A love for the military
Michael Shepherd, a platoon leader who served with Ross, told a crowd last Memorial Day that Ross loved the military.
“He volunteered for every leadership position West Point would let him have,” he said. “I know this because I was his subordinate for most of these roles.”
Shepherd also said Ross had a big heart. He said when Ross returned from a tour, he discovered his dog Betsy (Ross) was terminally ill. Shepherd said Ross spent the day with Betsy at the beach and gave her her favorite treats before putting her down.
Ross died in Afghanistan during his second tour after serving in the Army for over seven years.
Thompson said the field will be officially renamed soon.
“I’m a veteran. I’m from here,” he said. “I’m always trying to find positive role models for our students and our community and these two gentlemen were pretty outstanding people, so I felt like this was a wonderful way to pay honor to them and their family.”