About 1,500 people filled the football stands at Crescent High School Thursday afternoon to mourn the death of longtime coach James David Richardson, 52, of Iva.
Richardson has stood on this field countless times in his 31 years with District Three where he has always been referred to as “Coach.”
The 1988 Crescent High graduate would do just about anything to help his community and Crescent, even if that meant saying yes to the morning bus lines when he felt like saying no.
He was known for his morning arguments over not wanting to drive the bus.
But Richardson always showed up and did it anyway, because he knew he was helping.
“David was proud of the tiger. He knew where it came from and he was proud of where it came from,” said Jeff Craft, Crescent Tigers sporting director. “Someone said this week that he graduated and never left. Thank goodness he didn’t.”
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People from all walks of life attended his funeral – athletes mourning their coach, teachers missing their colleague, a community honoring their friend.
Filling her shoes at Crescent High won’t be an easy task, her son Derian Richardson said. The school will need to find someone to coach, drive buses, cook hot dogs at the concession stand, and help with the special education department – to name a few.
The day before his death, he competed in an all-day Tiger Invitational, where he competed in the golf tournament.
On Wednesday evening, the lights of all the athletics fields shone brightly to pay tribute to the multisport coach who was more recently the head coach of athletics.
He was known to be an advocate for rubberizing the track, so it was only fitting that he could roll over it one last time before the funeral.
Richardson began his coaching career in 1993. Over the next twenty years he would coach basketball, football, track and field and wrestling.
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His love of coaching would lead him to help players on other teams, his son Derien Richardson said. He remembered seeing his father across the field telling an athlete from another state how to polish his jumps.
His dad wanted everyone to be successful and do their best, said Richardson.
After 25 years as an assistant coach of football teams, he took a break to spend more time with his son. Richardson was still working in the press gallery, helping out doors and leading the teams on that bus.
Because where someone was needed, Richardson always stepped up to serve.
Crescent and District Three colleagues remember David Richardson
Sandy Thrasher has known Richardson since they were kids and laughed remembering when the two were 17 and taught her how to take a school bus.
A Crescent High junior at the time, Richardson made sure to take her across a stream so she had experience with Iva behind the wheel.
He hadn’t changed much over the years, Thrasher said, looking back on their last moments together over the past two years.
They both met in Crescent, their alma mater, where they had been special services paraprofessionals for two years.
âIt’s hard to sum up,â Tharasher said, through tears. “I tried to find the words to describe him and what he meant to us and everything he did. He touched pretty much the lives of everyone he came in contact with.”
With all of his coaching experience, Richardson has found his place over the past two years in special education where he has had a huge impact on children, Thrasher said.
He would help the students cook and bring his famous mac and cheese, she said.
Thrasher remembers Richardson saying he wished certain students would realize their worth. It really became her mission to show kids that they were valuable and appreciated, she said.
Joanna Miles, who worked with him at Crescent, said some students had tossed a balloon with notes inside or painted rocks or made cards while watching their teachers cry all week, Miles said.
Terry Crocker worked alongside Richardson for 18 years when he was the manager of Crescent and is remembered by the coach and educator as a talented and versatile leader who worked from obscurity to darkness. darkness because he loved children.
âMore than one of our bosses told me David Richardson could do any job at Crescent,â Crocker said. “Probably at one point or another, he’s done them all.”
Sarah Sheridan is the community reporter at Anderson. She would appreciate your help in telling important stories; reach it at [email protected] or on twitter @saralinasher.