The loss of Ryan Nash was tragic. The timing behind it could have — and in fact, should have — been crushing to Tyler Nash and his coaching responsibilities.
Instead, the sudden and unanticipated death served as the inspiring backdrop behind Liberty (Mo.) High School’s run to the Missouri Class 4 state girls soccer title.
As reported by the Kansas City Star, Ryan Nash committed suicide on May 14. The next day, Liberty was faced with a match at Hazlewood West, which would decide the district championship. Despite knowing that his brother was dead, Tyler Nash decided not to tell his team until after they were through the district match.
That was one of the most difficult aspects of dealing with the tragedy, according to Tyler Nash.
“We talk a lot about how we’re a family,” Nash told the Star. “Telling them prior to the game would have clearly had an impact on their ability to focus on the game.”
According to the team itself, as soon as they learned of Ryan Nash’s suicide, the rest of the tournament was about playing for the Nash family. They performed that role with aplomb, gutting out victories all the way to the state final, where they knocked off Nerinx Hall in a tight, 3-1 contest.
“The girls were everything,” Tyler Nash told the Star. “It was a way to focus a lot of energy into that. They also embraced my parents. They really took it on like my brother was one of them.
“Our goal was to always win state. I think our win on the field meant a lot, but what they did for me prior to that was way bigger than the sport of soccer.”