Loss shakes coaches, teammates

Published 10:03am Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Well-loved. Humble. Competitive. Hard worker. 

Just a few of the words Wetumpka head football coach Tim Perry and head wrestling coach Jeff Glass used Thursday to describe Shalom Nowden.

A member of the wrestling and football team, Nowden drowned Wednesday afternoon while swimming with some friends near Corn Creek Park in Wetumpka. For the Wetumpka wrestling program, the accident marks the second death in less than two years.

“He was one of the most genuinely well-liked kids around,” Glass said. “It’s hit my guys hard, it’s hit everybody hard. It’s something we don’t understand right now and never will.

“This is the second guy they’ve lost in two years and it only gets harder. I’m encouraging my leaders, to wrap  their arms around each other. It’s hard when you’re hurting to go look out for others, but sometimes that’s the only thing that saves us.”

While Nowden worked hard on the football field and the mat, Perry said he worked just as hard in the classroom.

“He was a model student-athlete. He approached his academics as seriously and passionately as he approached athletics,” Perry said. “He was a self-motivating,  contentious athlete, he was always doing things the right way. That’s a unique combination in today’s time. He was well-loved by his teachers, classmates, teammates, everybody who knew him. Pleasant to be around. Respectful and fun to coach.

“I won’t (remember) just one thing, it was everything about him.”

The Wetumpka students and community have added the grieving of Nowden in the wake of the death of Jody Sanford, a cross country and track team member, back in February. While there are never any explanations, Glass said, he’s proud how the school and community have responded.

“I can’t explain it; it baffles me. I wish it wasn’t so,” Glass said. “But I tell you, if any community can take a difficult moment and handle it with such grace, compassion and move forward, it’s ours.”

While the situation isn’t a normal one for high school students to deal with, Perry said, it’s brought everyone in the school and community closer together.

“I was very proud of how our guys, members of the team and members of the wrestling team who don’t play football, how they rallied around Shalom’s family and each other,” Perry said. “The parents of our players, the wrestling parents, our administration faculty, rallied around this family during this very difficult time.

“That’s what makes our school very unique, we are sincerely and genuinely family. When a member of our family is hurt, we rally around them.”

The Wetumpka wrestling and football booster clubs created an account for donation for the Nowden family. Those interested in helping should visit http://www.gofundme.com/ahvbp4.

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