PHOTOS: HHS Dedicates Saturday’s Football Game to Late Hillie Jordan Rankin

Members of Hillie Nation wore red for the late Jordan Rankin at the Sept. 21, 2019 Haverhill-Chelmsford football game at Trinity Stadium. (WHAV News photograph)

Jordan Rankin (Courtesy photograph/Christina Firek)

Members of the Haverhill High School cheerleading squad came together to pay tribute to their friend and fellow athlete Jordan Rankin as the Hillies faced off against Chelmsford Saturday at Trinity Stadium, with the girls wearing red ribbons in their hair and offering cheers of “We love Jordan” in memory of the 17-year-old ahead of the first anniversary of her death Sept. 25.

Hillies past and present packed the stands for the afternoon game wearing red, a favorite color of the teen’s, as a way to remember the lacrosse and field hockey standout who tragically lost her life in a car accident minutes from her home last fall at the intersection of Liberty and Crystal Streets in Haverhill.

Jordan’s parents, John and Cindy Rankin, along with her neighbor Christina Firek, attended the game, sitting near the students. In a conversation with WHAV after the game, Firek called the show of support for her childhood best friend “humbling.”

“It’s amazing, because I’ve known Jordan her whole life, but everyone in high school knew her a different way. It was nice to see all the connections she’s made and nice to see everyone remember her because it helps me, too,” Fierek, a Haverhill High senior, said.

John Rankin—who experienced a similar loss of his own during his high school years—was equally touched by the gesture. “I lost a friend and a neighbor in the same circumstances—a car accident—when I was a sophomore and he was a senior. It’s 35 years later and I still remember that and even before this happened to Jordan, think of him from time to time,” John Rankin told WHAV. “I know these kids are going to remember this for the rest of their life.”

At Saturday’s game—which the Hillies lost 21-9—the cheerleaders sold bracelets bearing Jordan’s name to raise $200 for a scholarship fund established in her memory. The Rankin family told WHAV eight scholarships were awarded to HHS students last year after $10,000 was contributed by a variety of donors, including members of Hillie nation, Wilmington Sons of Italy and Rankin family friends. Recipients wrote essays and were chosen blindly by a three-teacher panel, Cindy Rankin said.

The Haverhill High cheerleaders aren’t the only ones preparing to remember Jordan ahead of this week’s anniversary of her passing. Each month on the 24th—the day of the accident—her lacrosse teammates celebrate “Spread a Smile for No. 6 Day,” encouraging those who knew and loved the athlete to carry out a random act of kindness in her memory.

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