Olympic Heights’ Michael Ippolito still feels loss of former teammate

6:22 p.m Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 Sports
Michael Ippolito (left) of Olympic Heights rests with American Team teammates during the Palm Beach County All Star Game on Saturday in Greenacres. (Meghan McCarthy/ The Palm Beach Post)

Michael Ippolito and Jonathan Beauplan were always focused on the field, because when you’re 13-years-old and football is your life, every pass, every throw, every sprint to the end zone is on the biggest stage of your life, even if you’re just playing in the park.

“It was always a good time with him,” Ippolito said. “He was always laughing and joking. We took stuff real serious on the field, but it was always a good time.”

The two met at a little league football preseason meeting when they were about 10 and playing football in west Boynton Beach, and they grew close despite going to different middle schools. They’d meet up at practice; Beauplan was the quarterback, Ippolito the receiver. When their games in the 90-pound league were over, they’d watch the bigger kids play.

High school was in front of them, with the bigger throws and touchdowns that freshman, junior varsity and varsity football bring.

But Beauplan never got there.

“I was in Boston, with my mom and my brother in the car,” Ippolito said. “We were visiting a family friend and (a friend) texted me, and he was like, ‘Hey bro, have you heard what happened?’ ”

What happened was Beauplan took his own life at 13 on Nov. 1, 2013.

“It was over a text, so I didn’t really believe it,” Ippolito said. “I called Dorian, my other friend that was on the team, and he was like, ‘Yeah, bro.’ And I just started crying in the car.”

Ippolito returned in time for Beauplan’s funeral, which he said was traumatizing. The biggest heartbreak most 13-year-olds experience is when their crush tells them they like someone else.

“Everybody loved him, ” Ippolito said. “It was real hard to meet a person who disliked him. If they disliked him, it was jealousy. It had to be.”

More than four years later, Beauplan is still on Ippolito’s mind and still in the thoughts of others who knew him.

“I think about him every day,” Ippolito said. “So it’s like everything I do, I know he’s watching. For other people to be aware of the situation is good. Maybe it can stop what he did.”

Ippolito did go on to play varsity football, making the Olympic Heights roster in 2016. With a different quarterback throwing him the ball, the senior finished his high school career with an outstanding season — 47 catches for 873 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns, earning a second-team pick on The Post’s All-Area team and a roster spot at the Palm Beach County Senior All-Star Game on Saturday.

But whenever he gets on a football field, he thinks of Jonathan.

“Every time I step on the field, I just know he’s watching over me,” he said. “That’s why every time I score, I throw up the seven. That’s what he wore.”