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Life lessons come in all shapes, sizes

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The trying week for the Bearcats football team and university family teaches one life's hardest, unforgettable lessons.

CINCINNATI -- The years spent at college are designed to prepare young adults for the real world. Most of those come in the form of economics lessons or historical context, language advancement or public speaking. 

They're meant to set up young adults to succeed in the real world. Often, the only preparation to succeed stems from heartbreak. 

In the case of college football players, their college existence spans beyond that of a traditional student. Their brotherhood expands into the hundreds across a path paved in blood, sweat and grass stains. Few bonds replicate that of college football team. 

Only the 110 players who fill that locker room every day and run side by side through the misery of post-practice gassers in the heat of Higher Ground understand the misery and magnificence of their unique college experience. 

Just as understanding supply and demand or the civil rights movement teaches students lessons to prepare them for life, so do the events of this past weekend and passing of Ben Flick. 

Life doesn't always teach lessons with hugs and predictability. Those that most impact young lives, comes with pain, shock and, in this tragic case, death. 

Bonds forged by these players mean so much because how quickly they can be broken. These players know that now as they grieve for their fallen brother. 

In a campus bubble where the goal stands to prepare student-athletes for life, this weekend did more than any game, than any class. 

"It's something that will be in the back of these guys minds for a long time because it happened and they were all friends and teammates," Tommy Tuberville said. "It's life. It's something unfortunately you don't want to deal with or have to deal but they've dealt with it." 

Sons lose fathers, mothers lose daughters and we all will eventually see someone close to us pass. If you're lucky, you've skirted that inevitability to this point. 

For these players, they'll learn about continuing on through the pain, about remembering the good times, about pulling loved ones tight and relaying what they mean to them. 

They'll learn about moving forward a stronger, caring person. 

The Bearcats could have played this weekend had a bye not been placed on the schedule. The challenge would have been raised. To ask young kids to turn around and focus would be tough, but as it would be for any adults, which everyone in black, white and red with a FLICK#77 helmet sticker learns about at every practice, together.  

"It's been terrible, it's tough, it's a tragedy," Tuberville said. "Here one day gone the next. Something I've been through and us older folks have been through quite a bit but when you take these young guys to go through something like this it's different. I think they've handled it fairly well but you know they wouldn't handle it as well as most people would that's been through it. It's kind of like losing a brother." 

This situation is without doubt tragic and cruel, but as with every morning when the sun rises, comes a lesson that forms everyone moving forward. This team will be no different. They'll learn to move on, they'll learn how deal with unexpected twists and turns of life. 

All part of growing up, where some days are easier than others. 

"These are kids, they are not adults that have to look at this," Tuberville said. "Some have probably never been to a funeral like yesterday. They got their eyes opened. Lot of guys have never been to intensive care unit, like gone to this week and walked in and see what they see. But it's reality. I tell them, this is life. This is reality. This is what you'll deal with the rest of your life."

I want to hear from you! Shoot me any comments, questions or remembrances of Ben Flick to pauldehnerjr@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr. 

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