Captain Shreve gathered as a family early Monday morning. There were laughs, there were tears, chants and eerie silence. The grieving process moved forward.
Hundreds of students, staff, family and friends represented Gator Nation in the gym to honor Richard Lary, its head football coach who died from an apparent heart attack at the age of 49 on Saturday.
Lary’s wife, Becky, and their daughters Ally and Camryn were present for the emotional memorial that began at 7 a.m. and lasted about 45 minutes.
The program, the idea of Shreve students, included opening remarks by principal Sandra McCalla and thoughts from Shreve staff and former students.
“We’re proud he was among us,” McCalla said. “He mentored his athletes. He was courageous. He carried a go-getting attitude and a sense of humor. He never passed us without a joke.”
Lary spent 27 years – the last six with Shreve — as a teacher and coach in Caddo Parish.
“He was a giant of a man,” Shreve assistant principal Robert Silvie told the crowd. “He endeared himself to everyone on this campus.”
Many dressed in green and gold held hands throughout the morning. The football team dressed in game-day attire.
“He would make you a better man. He was a role model,” said senior Richard Ingram, an All-City linebacker for the Gators. “Coming together as a school — that just lets you know he’s involved in everything. He’s not just a football coach – he was everyone’s coach, even if you don’t play a sport.
“I’ll always remember his work ethic. He would never give up no matter how hard anything got. That’s something I want to carry on through my life.”
Silvie, the man in charge of Lary’s yearly evaluation, said the late coach always passed with flying colors.
“All of his talk was about how he could make his students better – through joking ways, through serious ways, he did just that. This man was highly effective.”
Caddo Parish provided several counselors Monday for students or staff who sought group or individual help. Pastors and chaplains from the area were invited to be present with the football team when they gathered for Monday’s seventh-period football class – the first without Lary.
“I encourage you to grieve, to mourn,” one parent said. “Embrace the process.”
Spring practice is set to begin in one week.
Most school-related activities, including state testing, outside the daily routine have been postponed for the week.
The visitation for Lary will be held at Calvary on Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. The funeral is scheduled for Calvary at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
A constant parade of attendees visited the Lary family, seated in the front row. Ally, wore a Captain Shreve Football shirt and displayed incredible strength for a 15-year-old freshman.
Becky spent much of the ceremony with her right arm around Camryn.
Emotions came to a head when former football player Jacob Angevine took the mic.
“Coach Angie (a nickname created by Richard Lary),” graduated from Shreve last year.
“When I first heard that he was taken to the hospital, I was thinking about what I was going to text him when he gets out,” Angevine said. “I never saw coach Lary sick one day.”
Angevine said the only time he saw Lary without a smile was during film study.
“He gave me a chance; saw something in me,” Angevine said. “That’s what he did for all of us. He gave us a chance. I changed my major (at Louisiana Tech) to education because I wanted to be just like coach Lary.
“I would trade anything in this world to have four more years on this field with coach Lary. As he said, if you opened him up, you would find his heart would be green and gold. I’ll never forget one thing he told me: ‘The only thing worth fighting for is your family.
“That’s what we are — green and gold forever. Chomp ’em!”
The memorial concluded as cheerleaders, baseball players and such gathered in small groups. After the small groups broke, everyone in attendance gathered at center court. Students in the middle of the huddle led chants and prayer.
As students filed out of the gym, Ally Lary made an inconspicuous presentation to Justin Brown – a special-needs student who has served as Richard Lary’s right-hand man.
Brown wore a headset during games, carried keys to facilities and shadowed his mentor and friend.
Ally approached Brown and put a green Captain Shreve football bracelet on his right arm. It was the very piece of silicone coach Lary was wearing when he passed away.
“Justin meant a lot to my dad,” Ally Lary told The Times. “I thought before he leaves the Swamp, he should leave with a piece of my Daddy.”
HOW TO HELP
The “Lary Family Memorial Account” was set up Monday at Red River Bank. Deposits can be made deposits at any branch. Those who want to help can also drop off contributions at the office of Captain Shreve High School, Caddo Middle Magnet or Eden Gardens. All proceeds will go directly to the Lary Family.