NEW ALBANY, Ind. — It's the offseason, but the boys soccer team at a southern Indiana high school gathered at the coach's house to remember one of its own Wednesday.
The porch in the back of coach Josh Dickman's house overlooks a soccer field that borders his mother's house. Players kicked the ball around as the sun cracked the mud made by recent rains.
About a year before, Jacob Trulock was at Dickman's house.
“(Jacob) requested to meet to discuss how he could be a leader for the team, what he could do for the team,” Amy Dickman, Josh’s wife, recalled Wednesday.
On a sunny spring-break afternoon, the New Albany High School boys team gathered to mourn Trulock, who died Tuesday in a hiking accident at Clifty Falls State Park in nearby Madison, Indiana.
About a year after the meeting where Trulock sought advice, the Dickmans and assistant coach Shane Stuber sat on the porch under an umbrella and remembered him.
“We learned way more from Jacob Trulock than he would’ve ever learned from us,” Josh Dickman said.
‘He always thought of everybody else first’
Sports have a way of intertwining themselves into everyday life.
Whether it's wearing a jersey to school or shooting a crumpled piece of paper into a trash can, the melding of the two is not uncommon.
There are few examples of this union more clear than Jacob Trulock.
He was the team's goalkeeper. Structurally, this meant all of his teammates were in front of him.
This theme was one Trulock, 18, carried into life off the field, too.
“He always thought of everybody else first," Stuber told the Jeffersonville, Indiana News and Tribune. "On the field and off.”
The examples of Trulock's selflessness are plenty. Everyone who knew him seems to have a story.
For Koby Anderson, now a junior, Trulock was the guy who helped him open a locker for the first time. At freshman orientation, Jacob Trulock, a sophomore, was there to help out.
"He gave us a tour around the school and he demonstrated how to open a locker," Anderson said. "I wasn't getting it the first couple times. He took about 10 minutes out of his time to show me how to do it."
Anderson says Trulock later tutored him in three subjects, sticking around until Anderson knew the material. Trulock was accepted into Louisville and Purdue and planned on majoring in engineering at one of those schools.
This story is one of many with a common theme: Jacob Trulock was an all-around good person.
"He was a really nice guy," Anderson continued. "I don't know anybody that has anything bad to say about him, really. He was always positive. He reached out to find ways to better those around him. He challenged himself to be better than he was the last day."
For Blake Hanen, there are a few stories that stick out. The first was at summer conditioning before his freshman year. Jacob Trulock was a junior and, by that time, an established leader for the team. It was time for the evening pick-up games and, to Hanen's surprise, Trulock selected him.
Then there was the time he and Trulock went out to eat after a girls soccer game. Hanen was short a few bucks. Trulock, always a goalkeeper, was there to make the save.
"That's just the kind of guy he was," Hanen said. "He was always there when you needed him."
Hanen, a defenseman for the team, was close to Jacob Trulock on the field by the nature of the game. Despite his overwhelming positivity, there was one particular in-game scenario Trulock did not like.
"He didn't like when I dropped the ball back to him," Hanen said with a refreshing laugh. "He'd always get a little upset with me after the game about that. He'd always want me to keep my head up and look forward."
Even within a passing moment of displeasure, Jacob Trulock had a positive lesson: Keep your head up and look forward.
By the time his senior year rolled around, it was no surprise that Trulock was selected as a captain.
“He was a captain before he even knew he was captain, or before he had the title,” his coach, Dickman, said. “He was our first pick.”
While the captaincy was not a surprise, a gesture in his final game was. Before a penalty-kicks loss to Floyd Central in the sectional — in which Trulock had 17 saves — he approached Kevin Sanchez, a fellow senior.
"He came up to me and he gave me his captain armband and he said, 'You deserve this more than me.'" Sanchez said. "I don't know how to describe it."
’So much good in the world’
At Dickman's house, the cars kept rolling in. Players gathered near midfield and began kicking. Occasionally, there would be a hug and a shared look of togetherness. For the most part, they just played soccer, sending shots at the net where their teammate should be.
A positive soul like Trulock is the kind of person that would be nice to have around at a time like this. As the tragic news broke, many went to his Twitter account, where they found a message from last June that was as comforting as it was heartbreaking.
There is so much good in the world! My only wish is to be apart of it!!!!— Jacob Trulock (@jet12181998) June 27, 2016
Maskulinski writes for the Jeffersonville, Indiana News and Tribune.