KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) -The community is coming together for a Tri-Cities coach diagnosed with cancer. Former players and students have organized a fundraiser at Sullivan South High School for coach Chris Sturgill.
Sturgill is a graduate of S.S.H.S. and is now a teacher, football coach, and the head softball coach there.
As you can imagine lots of students there were devastated to hear about his recent cancer diagnosis, but say they want to do everything they can to get their coach back on the field.
“He tells us when we’re out there out there, on the softball field is his favorite place to be and he just looks forward to it every day,” Senior softball player Rachel DeLung said.
“You can really tell he really does care about the kids and he really wants to push us to be our best,” Junior softball player Taylor McConell said.
And when his team got the news that their coach, who is in his thirties, is facing a cancer diagnosis, “It was definitely devastating to all of us. We knew it would be really hard for him we know he really loves to be out there and that’s what really makes him happy,” McConell said.
Word of his diagnosis spread to his former players and students.
“You’re with these guys for four years of your life and they become like father figures to you and you know if your dad is hurt or something you want to help them out,” S.S.H.S. graduate Hogan Jones said.
“He said if you ever need anything always come to me,” S.S.H.S. graduate Cooper Jones said. “We got to do something to help him out we got to help him with his medical bills.”
So these two brothers along with other community members have put together a fundraiser in the form of a family-friendly wrestling match with a goal to get 1,000 people in to Sullivan South High School’s gym to show Coach Sturgill he is not alone in his fight.
“We’re going to help him fight it and you know he’s going to make it through this we’ve got all the faith in him in the world,” Hogan Jones said.
And as for his softball team, they will start their softball season on Monday with heavy but determined hearts.
“It’s definitely going to be tough for us I think most of us just really want to do it for him because I know he’s really looking forward to it. He really had faith that we could go somewhere this year so I think we’re all going to just try to go as far as we can for him.” McConell said.
“It’s going to be really different without him but I think that we’re looking forward to the times that he can be there and can be with us and it’ll just make those times all the more special,” DeLung said.
The “Showdown for Sturgill” is March 11th at 7 p.m. in the Sullivan South High School gym. Tickets range from five to fifteen dollars. Organizers say they are hoping to raise $10,000 for their coach.
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