I still am trying to come to grips with it all.
Monday night, Perry high school football Coach and assistant basketball coach Herb Lane Jr. died in a car accident. He was going home after practice as the Commodores prepared for their 2nd-ever Regional appearance.
Tuesday morning, the team huddled together to decide if they would play that night, or if they would postpone the game by a day. No one would blame them for taking 24 hours to mourn the loss of their Coach. But Herb’s father, Herb Lane Sr., talked with the team and told them that he thought his son would want them to play. So they did.
They played with energy and with a love for one another and a love for their fallen coach. And they collected the first regional win in school history, 52-50. After they game, each coach and player went into the stands to hug Lane’s wife.
Herb Lane Jr. was a man who cared about students – so much so that he wanted to have a chaplain on his football team, because, “A lot of these guys need a father figure in their lives.”
When we talked after the season, he mentioned how much the chaplain, Channon Martin, had meant to him personally. He reflected on what a difference Channon’s presence made on the players as well.
When I think of all these stories, and others that are coming to light, I think of one word: commitment.
Coach Lane took over a Perry football program that hadn’t won very much. Yes he wanted to change that, but more importantly, he wanted to change the trajectory of lives that may have been headed off-course. He was Mr. Everything at Perry, even though he was not in the school. Lane Jr. was the junior high football coach and the girls basketball coach at one time, before taking over the varsity football team. He told me earlier in the season that this would be his last year helping Matt Tabler as an assistant coach for the Boys team, but he wanted to finish out this run, with these seniors that he had gotten so closed to both in football and basketball. He wanted to focus on football and his family and his business, Seamless Construction LCC.
Lane Jr. was committed to helping students and now, in his death, we are committed to doing the same as we pick up his baton and run with perseverance. Psalm 23:4 continues to resonate with me through this difficult time.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;” (Psalm 23:4, NKJV)
“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6, NLT)
I will miss my friend. But, I will remember him by how I live, and how I serve the ones he loved the most.