Coach Brings Football Team Together To Talk About Death of Popular Player

The teammates of a popular high school football player who died last week are planning a 7:30 p.m. candlelight vigil at the Weatherford's Kangaroo Stadium.

Weatherford High School senior Brennan Weikel died on a Spring Break hunting trip with his family. He accidentally shot himself while leaving his hunting blind.

His funeral was this weekend, but his close friends and teammates are planning a special ceremony in his honor Monday now that school is back in session.

And on Monday afternoon, the Weatherford High School football coach gathered the entire team together to talk about grieving, supporting each other and moving forward as a family.

Coach Weldon Nelms spoke with the senior class separately from the other teammates.

The team wants to frame the jersey that Weikel wore and give it to his mother during a special ceremony at the annual "spring game" in May.

"When you lose a member of your family, it cuts you really deep. And these kids really felt that," Nelms said.

His speech Monday before his team was one of the most difficult moments in his nearly 40-year coaching career.

"Everybody loved him. I never heard a teacher, coach or any kid say a bad word about him," Nelms said. "He was a true friend in every way, and that's important."

"He's the only one who wore this jersey, actually," coach said. "We got new jerseys two years ago and he's the only one who wore 39."

Nelms thinks that other players should have the chance to wear 39 in the future, so that he can share Brennan's story as he hands it out, and discuss what a special young man he was.

But he knows the team is conflicted, and there is a petition going around to ask administrators to retire the number before next season.

"I'd want some kid wearing it, that'd make me happy to see a kid wearing that number,” Nelms said. “But that’s just my opinion. We'll meet as a group, as a team, and pursue forward with a plan--together.”

Nelms talked about what a special young man Weikel was, and how he knows everyone is deeply affected by the loss.

“He was a big part of our family. We lost a part of our family. He was a great teammate, he was a great classmate,” he said.

The teenage players listened with heavy hearts.

“A coach is supposed to go before his players, I’d jump right in that casket and take his place. But you can’t do that. And we have to accept it and grow from this,” Nelms said.

It was lesson about a young life lost too soon, about respect and camaraderie and about moving forward.

“He may be lost, but he's never going to be forgotten,” Nelms said.

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