In his dreams, Dominic Colosimo walks the halls of Juan Diego Catholic High, the school that his father helped build.
He searches for his cousin, Adam. The two were inseparable growing up, but now he can’t find Adam anywhere. Not in his classes, not at their side-by-side lockers.
The pain in the dream is sharp. But waking up is worse: Dominic realizes it is all still true.
“The first day of school, that’s what’s going to be the hardest day, I think,” he says. “Basically since I’ve been going here, Adam’s been with me. It’s going to be strange having a regular day without him.”
Since Adam Colosimo’s death last month, nothing has been routine at the school — where the 16-year-old was a popular and accomplished athlete — or in the Colosimo family, which has mourned the loss of a bright young nephew and son.
The Juan Diego football team, which is preparing for its season opener on Friday at Salem Hills, has felt that loss as much as any entity in the community. Adam was slated to be a starter at running back and in the secondary, but more so than just a player, he was a leader — someone other boys would try to emulate.
A 4.0 GPA student. An avid reader of the Bible. A leader on a youth football team that went undefeated for three years. A gritty 5-foot-8 point guard for the basketball team. But more than that.
“It becomes a cliché when a young person dies, but Adam was a special kid,” says John Colosimo, who coached Adam alongside four of his other cousins on the Soaring Eagle football team. “He never believed anything was impossible.”
Junior Jessie Springer, who formed a running back tandem with Adam, recalled that his teammate was one of the first to befriend him when he came to the school in eighth grade.
“He was popular, so if you were his friend, you made a lot of friends,” Springer says. “In football, he wasn’t the most vocal, but he always knew what he was doing.”
Adam Colosimo was never without purpose, idling away his time. He worked on homework or played basketball instead of watching TV. He went out with his friends for burritos. Some in his family chose to believe that somehow Adam knew his life would be short, so he didn’t waste any part of it.
June 30 was one of those nights when Adam was out to eat with friends. He didn’t have any money, so he and his cousins Gabe and Sam Colosimo wandered, eventually climbing the roof of a local church.
On the climb down, Adam caught his foot against a metal plate on the building that had been electrified by a faulty wire. The electricity passed through him, rendering him unconscious.
“I remember I was so scared,” Sam says. “Life was happening so fast.”
His cousins performed CPR. Paramedics took him to Intermountain Medical Center, where he was put on life support. But 10 days later — even as hope was rising and prayers were streaming in — Adam died on July 10, a Tuesday afternoon.
It’s a moment that Sam has played over and over in his mind. The questions of what he, or anyone else, could have done differently haunt him still. Even when other mourning family members and friends tell him no one is to blame, he can’t help but pour over it again.
“This summer has just been divided in half, and ever since what happened, there isn’t a second that goes by that I don’t think of Adam,” Sam says. “It’s not even just football, it’s everything. There’s just this void.”
His coach estimates more than 1,200 people showed up to the funeral at the local church, even students from Jordan, Alta and Highland. The building was so packed, fire marshals were turning people away.
John has spent more time with his seven brothers and sisters, in particular Adam’s father, Larry. At a recent practice, Larry walked a few feet onto the turf, watching the football team go through plays. He soon withdrew to the shadows of the ticket booth, and team members discreetly came over to embrace him.
Adam’s father has visited a handful of times, never able to stay for more than a few minutes.
“It breaks my heart to see that,” John says of his brother. “You get frightened that something could happen to your kids. I’m glad that I have the chance to spend more time with my son [Gabe], but it hurts me to know Larry doesn’t have that chance.”
There were times when the team would go through the motions at practice, and the assistant coaches called it off, sensing the emotion was far adrift from anything to do with football. On the first day of school, teachers and administrators will keep an eye on anyone who is still struggling with Adam’s death.
The wound is far from healed, but it has been covered over by pads and football helmets bearing a cross under the No. 2 — Adam’s number. The family has set up a foundation in Adam’s honor that might go to a scholarship or another cause to help children who feel alone, John says.
But remembering Adam is deeper than a sticker, or even a win on the football field, the players say. There is no victory or title that will bring their brother back. More so than winning a game, it’s been about playing the game and having each other to lean on.
“I’m actually looking forward to that first football game,” Dominic says. “Adam would want me to play, and not just for him. For myself. For Juan Diego.”