Triumph out of tragedy: Matt English continues to inspire Beech Grove in sectional title
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – With a narrow 48-45 win over Manual last Saturday, the Hornets of Beech Grove are Sectional Champions for the first time since 2008.
“It was definitely a cool experience, not only for our team, but for the whole community,” explains senior Gavin Hess. “It was the day after, and I was thinking, ‘did we really win the sectional last night?'”
“Our number one goal was definitely sectionals, and we were definitely, no matter what stood in front of us, we were gonna go get it,” adds senior Griffin Wade.
That determination was born out of tragedy, when former Hornet head coach Matt English passed away in December after a battle with brain cancer.
“You never know what a kid’s going through when you lose a mentor, a coach, and a friend like they have,” says new Beech Grove head coach Mike Renfro, who was on staff with English for five years.
But the Hornets persevered through their grief and bonded together by the many lessons English taught them over the years.
“He definitely helped me with being tough,” says Hess. “Everything you do, do it to the best of your ability.”
“He always put others in front of him,” continues Wade. “Basically, (he taught us to) just show how much you care about other people.”
Coach English's impact on Beech Grove reaches far beyond basketball, but inside the Hornets' gym is where that impact began to grow. Beech Grove City Schools honored English and ensured that impact would not be forgotten by naming the basketball court in his honor.
"You walk out on the floor, and it's dedicated to him, all the beliefs he had, and all the beliefs we're still gonna have," explains Renfro.
Chief among those beliefs is written right on the court beneath his name: "We before me." English's mantra now defines his team.
"I always want to put others in front of myself," says Wade. "Definitely my teammates. Even if I'm not playing my greatest, I have to play hard for my teammates."
"When I'm on the court, I'm not playing just for me but for him and the whole community," adds Hess. "It makes me want to play harder for him and for everyone else out there."
Come Saturday, the Hornets can match the best season in school history with one regional win, but their eyes are set on two, and the first semi state appearance in school history.