On August 12, 2016, our community lost an outstanding young man. His name is Mason Wagner. Mason was a member of the Sandhills Patriots’ family. My family. When I received the news Friday night, I sat on my front porch in shock and disbelief. Saturday morning, I traveled to Winston-Salem with other Sandhills Patriots coaches to attend an AAU football coaches meeting. On my way to Winston-Salem, I called Michelle Gray who had spent the night with Victoria, Mason’s mother, at the Seven Lakes EMS station. When I spoke with Michelle, she was on her way to the store to purchase food and supplies for the Wagner family to prepare for the arrival of other family members that evening. Despite the tragic circumstances, I knew Victoria and Mason’s older brother Austin were in good hands.
After the coaches meeting on Saturday, I drove to the North Carolina Mountains to meet my wife and family members. I shed some tears during that drive, but I had a plan. It was a selfish plan. I had a three and a half hour drive home on Sunday morning and I knew that I would be able to process Mason’s tragic death, make sense of what had happened, and put all of the emotions running through my mind and my heart in a nice compartment. The Mason Wagner compartment. That way I could move on and only open up that compartment when it was convenient for me. I was confident my plan would work. In my profession, we are taught that, if we analyze the issue and apply logic and hard work, the answer will come. However, my drive home yielded no answers. No matter how much I thought about it, I could not make sense of what had happened.
When I got home Sunday afternoon, I quickly realized that Mason Wagner did not deserve to be in a convenient compartment. As painful as it might be, Mason deserved to be the front and center of my heart and mind. I then became determined to find some way to make something good out of something so sad. I thought about Mason’s Pinecrest teammates and the fact that they will never have the opportunity to play with Mason again. And then I thought, although they will not play with him again, they can play for Mason. They could do more. They could treat their parents with dignity and respect for Mason. They could give their best effort in the classroom and on the football field for Mason. They could serve their community and be kind and compassionate to those less fortunate FOR Mason. They could be tolerant and understanding of those who do not share their same skin color, ethnicity or religion FOR Mason.
If all of those who knew Mason will pledge to be a better person FOR Mason, then maybe he will never truly be gone. Rather, a little part of Mason will live inside of all of us and in some small way he will continue to make a difference to those he left behind. I guess that puts the ball in our court.
You will be missed, Mason Wagner, but you will never be forgotten.
Coach Van Camp
19 August 2016
MASON ALLEN WAGNER SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION DUE MARCH 15, 2019 *must include recommendation and essay!
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