As school begins, Vernon High School students and staff are reeling from the tragic death of Athletics Director and Head Coach Trey Pike.
Pike was killed in a boating accident in the late hours of August 6, less than 12 hours later, Superintendent Joe Taylor had called a meeting of staff, counselors, clergy and football players to offer counseling or anything else they would need in the wake of Pike’s passing.
Taylor advised of the resources available. “We have an incredible amount of resources in this community,” said Taylor. “We are going to do whatever you need us to do to help you through this time. That goes for staff as well as students.”
Several members of staff, coaches and clergy spoke in remembrance of Pike as they addressed his team.
Holmes Valley Community Church Pastor Cody Boyett spoke directly to Pike’s team. “This could tear you apart,” said Boyett. “But let this be an effort in coming together and carry on despite your grief. You guys can go on, you can be victorious. That is what coach would have wanted.”
Pike had a way of bringing out the best in his players according to Vernon Athletics Photographer Rob Holley. “Coach loved these kids,” said Holley. “He had a way of talking to them that got them to play their hardest. He was unlike any coach I have ever seen. He loved those kids and they loved him.”
“We will get through this together,” said Assistant Coach Richard Koonce. “We are built for this, let's get together and have one hell of a season for Coach.”
As Pike’s colleague and friend Sharon Kilpatrick spoke with a voice full of emotion she told the players about Trey as a man and as a coach. “Trey believed in you,” she began. “He loved you deeply. He gave his life loving you. Even when football is over, he believed all of you would make it in life. Never forget how he made you feel about yourselves.”
Former Head Coach Gerald Tranquille traveled to Vernon to be present for the players. “Coach was my brother and I already miss him terribly,” he said. “He was the perfect person to pick up where I left off. He was the perfect storm, the extra push that you all needed. I may not be here with you anymore, but I am still here for all of you, I'll always be here.”
Sammy Hayes, Pike’s neighbor, attended the meeting and remembered Pike as a man who loved his job and his players. “He was a really good guy,” said Hayes. “He was dedicated to these kids. Coaching wasn't about the money, he truly loved his team. We will miss him greatly.”
Assistant Coach Chad Weeks, who will act as Interim Athletics Director and Head Coach in the wake of Pike’s passing, told the team,”We are going to carry on and do what he wanted us to do,” said Weeks. “We have to put one foot in front of the other and make this thing happen.”
As the meeting drew to a close, those in attendance gathered around Pike’s team and prayed for understanding and peace. While the loss is a heavy one, Vernon High School Yellow Jackets football team has many who will help carry the load.
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