The Dawson County Tiger Wrestlers honored their seniors Jan. 23 before matches against White County. Seniors Brandon Jones, Nate Umberger and Jake Williams were escorted by their families and were recognized by the team, coaches and spectators for their contributions to the team and school.
And one senior wrestler was there in spirit: Cooper Mitchell.
The senior class honored the late Mitchell, who died in July 2015. Cooper was on the wrestling team his freshman year and was described as a “hard working young man with an infectious smile.” Cooper, who would be a senior this year, was recognized as always being a part of the team.
“Cooper was on the team his freshman year and was a big part of everything,” said Coach Arron Haynes. “His personality always was present. His passing was truly a loss for many of the boys and myself.”
The wrestling team has honored Cooper’s memory by wearing his initials on the left side of their singlets for the past three years to show that he continues to be part of the Tiger wrestling team both on and off the mat. As Cooper was remembered and celebrated with his fellow seniors Jones, Umberger and Williams, his initials will be retired next year as an honorary graduation from the team, according to Haynes.
Cooper’s mother and father, Christy and John, as well as his brother Turner and his sister Zoe, were recognized by the team and coaches.
“It was an honor to Coach Cooper and just hope that it was able to help his family just a little bit more with one of the milestones that they will not be able to physically share with him,” said Haynes.
The senior class presented the Mitchell family with an honorary athletic letter in Cooper’s honor. The patch - which is one worn by the varsity wrestlers - was encased and surrounded by signatures from the Tiger wrestlers. A picture of a burning candle was also included, which Haynes said represents “how his spirit has continued to be a part of us and will always burn bright in the program.”