Thursdays this fall have been the most difficult for Montoyia McInnis.
Fridays aren’t easy, either. In reality, no days are easy. But Thursdays and Fridays are when she misses her son, Jabarri Goudy, most.
“I was used to getting the phone calls on Thursdays, ‘Mama, can you pick up my gloves?’ or ‘I need some socks,’” McInnis said. “On Fridays, it was, ‘Mama, can you bring me Subway before the game?’ I try to just focus on the fond memories.”
Goudy was a standout defensive lineman at Collins High, where he helped lead the Tigers to the Class 3A State Championship as a junior last season. But in the early-morning hours of July 5, the 17-year-old’s life was taken when he was shot and killed outside a Hattiesburg nightclub.
The incident occurred after a fight in the parking lot of Club Memories. According to the most recent information from the Hattiesburg Police Department, five people have been arrested in connection with the shooting.
Goudy’s death left an irreparable crack in his family’s foundation. The Tigers, though, have helped Goudy’s grieving loved ones cope with the loss of the young man his former teammates likened to a big brother to everyone on the team. In the days following his death, the Collins football team mourned alongside Goudy’s family and made them a solemn promise — one it hasn’t forgotten and intends to keep.
“All of us seniors (of which there are 20) came up with the idea, and (head coach Ryan Earnest), too,” receiver Calvin Keys said. “We have his number (66) on our helmet and on our jersey and before every game, at the end of the little speech, we say, ‘Six-six, on three!’
“Jabarri is who we play for now.”
Collins also retired Goudy’s jersey number (a first for the small Covington County school) prior to the season and ordered two more No. 66 jerseys — one to hang in the locker room, while the other is carried to midfield before each game by the team’s captains for the pregame coin toss.
Such gestures have helped ease the pain for McInnis and Goudy’s father, Demetrius Goudy, as well as their 5-year-old daughter, Taylor.
“To see them out there playing with all their heart and know they’re doing it for him,” McInnis said. “Sometimes I have to fight back the tears.”
Earnest received the call around 3 a.m. July 5. He’d last seen Goudy three days before when his rising senior stalwart along the defensive front showed up for a voluntary workout with former Tiger and current Mississippi State defensive back Mark McLaurin.
Earnest said Goudy was the last of his players he saw before the holiday weekend.
“There’s no right way to handle it,” he said. “It was a really tough week. Then having his funeral the next Saturday, and just the finality of it.”
Senior linebacker Tee Dossett struggled to come to terms with losing his friend and teammate.
“I was devastated,” he said. “It just really destroyed me. It was way, way, way worse than I’d ever felt before.”
Earnest described Goudy as the type of person who never had a bad day. The kind of young man who always put the best interest of his friends and teammates above his own.
“They all looked to him for leadership,” he said. “This senior class was a very tight-knit group before, and he was the guy that kind of held them all together. He was kind of the glue and at the core of who they are.”
Which made losing him that much more difficult. But the fourth-year Collins coach recalled a game earlier this season against West Marion, which happens to be the Tigers’ opponent in Friday’s 3A South State title game. Very little was going right for Earnest’s squad, so he summoned the power of Goudy’s memory.
“It was just something as simple as mentioning his name,” he said. “It kind of brought them back to the mindset that this is nothing for us to overcome because we’ve overcome so much worse.
“This team was already resilient, but I think they’ve become even more so. Even in death, (Jabarri) has kept this bunch together.”
That has, in turn, helped strengthen the resolve of Goudy’s family.
As McInnis describes what the Tigers and their performance this season means to her, she’s reminded of many things. But at the top of the list is the team’s first-round playoff game versus Philadelphia High. Late in the game, Collins scored a touchdown to take a 66-43 lead. As it always does, the team lined up to attempt a 2-point conversion. However, when the ball was snapped, quarterback Detric Hawthorn intentionally took a knee to forgo the extra 2 points at the direction of Earnest, leaving the team’s point total at 66.
“I almost exploded,” McInnis said. “I’ll never forget that. Like, right now I’m about to start crying just talking about it. What really made it special for me was it was the first playoff game, and that would’ve been the game where my baby would’ve been so hyped. So excited. I know what that game would’ve meant to him.”
The Jabarri Goudy Memorial Foundation
The family of former Collins High football player Jabarri Goudy, who was killed in a shooting in July outside a Hattiesburg nightclub, started the Jabarri Goudy Memorial Foundation in the wake of his death.
The foundation will honor a Collins High senior student-athlete who meets a set of predetermined guidelines each year with a $500 scholarship.
To contribute to the Jabarri Goudy Memorial Foundation, visit any Regions Bank location.