MURFREESBORO — Melanie Loupe walked between the two rows of Siegel wrestlers.
She held both hands out, touching hands as she walked onto the mat where the Siegel wrestling program was honoring her son, Mason Loupe, who died nearly two months ago from a gunshot wound to his head.
Mason was a football player and wrestler at Siegel
She paused occasionally to hug a wrestler and then give another a peck on the cheek.
“The love that those boys have shown me … Literally, anything that I have needed they have helped me,” Loupe said. “And coach (Lee Ramsey) as well. Coach Ramsey will randomly text me and tell me, “I’m thinking about you, and I love ya.’
“He was a second father to my son.”
The wrestling program has become an extended family since her son’s death Sept. 2.
Siegel’s wrestlers — past and present — continue to watch over the woman they affectionately refer to simply as ‘Momma Loupe.’
Some take her home from Scales Elementary, where she is a fourth-grade teacher. She hasn’t driven much since her son’s death.
Sometimes they leave a note of encouragement on her desk at school.
Others simply send her text messages with the words, ‘Love ya Momma.’
And when she moved out of her home for a condo after Mason’s death, the wrestling team helped move her.
“I didn’t lift a finger,” said Loupe, beaming with pride of the wrestling team. “I didn’t want to stay in the house any longer.
“The wrestling team came over and moved the entire house in two days.”
Siegel forfeited the 160-pound weight class — Mason’s weight — Wednesday in wins over Rossview and Warren County
“Everything we do is to honor him in the right way and to help in the healing in the right way,” Ramsey said.
“His mom was been incredibly strong. I think that’s one of the things we are honoring. We want her to see how much he means to us.”
Ramsey said he made sure to clear everything with the TSSAA.
“It was a slight difference in how a match runs,” Ramsey said.
Loupe also was presented a wrestling poster of her son.
She said she has nothing but found memories of her son on the wrestling mat. She remembers when Ramsey had to show her exactly how close she was allowed to get to the mat without being too close. Mason wrestled on the Stars’ varsity team as a freshman.
“Mason was a magnificent football player,” Loupe said. “But he was a beast on the mat.”
Loupe said she plans to remain close to the Siegel program and continue to attend matches.
“That was my world,” she said. “That’s what we did during the week. Mason would have to work and cut weight. I’d go and get him something to eat as soon as he was weighed in. He’d get on the mat and just tear it up. He was amazing on the mat.”
She still watches her son’s past matches.
“There are times I’ll just turn on my computer and watch him wrestle,” she said. “I just watch them over and over.”
Reach Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 and on Twitter @Kreager.