Allen (Texas) High School teacher and assistant football coach James Shillam died of COVID-19 complications on Sunday.
Shillam was hired to join Allen’s coaching staff as a freshman defensive assistant in July, according to the Allen Independent School District. He was 56 years old.
“He adored every minute of Texas football,” Shillam’s wife, Kyp told WFAA. “For him, Allen was his dream. It was his promised land.”
Before being hired at Allen by first-year head coach Chad Morris, Shillam coached at Newman Smith High School. Allen is scheduled to begin its 2021 season against Plano East High School on Friday night.
“He was everything you want in a coach,” former Newman-Smith coach Paul Ressa said. “He lived and breathed with faith and he walked with it. And he poured into kids”
It is with great sadness for us to announce that Coach James Shillam passed away yesterday. Coach was a man of God, devoted husband, & father of two. Coach Shillam has impacted so many lives through his tenure. Although his time at Allen was short, he will always be an Eagle. 🙏
— Allen Eagles Football (@alleneaglesfb) August 23, 2021
Shillam was unvaccinated by choice and first became sick in early August, according to his wife. Texas has seen its COVID-19 death rate spike in recent weeks, with a seven-day death average of 154 now plaguing the Lone Star State after that number was at 23 just last month.