Beloved Gates County coach dies playing in alumni game

Wayne Hathaway

GATES COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — A beloved high school basketball coach passed away after he collapsed on the court Saturday night.

The Gates County High School community is remembering the life of Wayne Hathaway.

“It’s really affected everybody,” said senior Demond Jones.  “Everybody is kind of sad.”

Sometimes it’s hard to judge the impact of a person until they are gone.

“He was a great coach,” added junior Tyrell Holley.

“He would talk to you about anything,” said junior Ron Olsen.  “He wants the best for everybody.”

The impact left by Hathaway speaks for itself.

“He won a lot of games in this gym, but at the end of it, it wasn’t about wins and losses for him,” said Gates County High Principal Jonathan Hayes.  “It was about kids getting better and becoming better as individuals.”

For the past seven years, Hathaway was on the sidelines for not only basketball, but he also assisted with baseball and football.

“With him not being here you definitely lose someone who had a big influence,” added assistant coach Graylen Boone.

He was playing in an alumni basketball game over the weekend.  Doctors worked to save his life. Hathaway was only 40 years old.

“It’s been kind of a quiet Monday at the school,” said Gates County football coach Matt Biggy.  “I think everybody is in shock.”

That shock will be there many days to come.

“He meant everything to me,” Holley added.

“He told me the right things and the wrong things to do,” Jones said.

“He taught me how to become a man,” Olsen added.

“He made me the person I am today,” Holley said.

“He taught us that education was more important than athletics,” Olsen added.

On Monday, the gym is quiet.  Basketball tryouts were scheduled to begin.  They will wait.

“There is going to be some difficult times ahead,” Hayes said.  “It’s going to be tough to fill those shoes.”

“We have to play in memory of him,” Holley added.  “When we go out on the court we have do everything in memory of him.”

Grief counselors were on hand at school and they will be there all week.