Shocking death of a friend


There is a story, some good and some bad, behind every death notice.

The latest I read was disturbing.

Years ago I coached a girl’s softball team in a city-sponsored recreation league.

I recall one year I had a girl, 12 or 13 years old, who had an exceptional talent. She was a natural and would have caused jealousy on any male team.

She grew quickly, went on to high school and broke all records on the basketball court.

Her outstanding play earned a full scholarship to a major state university where she also earned All-American honors on the college level.

From college forward I lost touch with her and what had happened to her.

The other day when I read in the local paper a notice of her death it was a surprise.

Her detailed obituary appeared several days later and made no mention of her talented exploits on the basketball court, or her overall athletic abilities.

It was a sad closure to a still young life so full of talent.

Her name was Lisa Fennell.

She was a 1980 graduate of Goldsboro High School and one of the most, if not the most-gifted athlete to ever graduate from Goldsboro.

Her youthful talent on the softball field was unsurpassed.

As a pitcher, she actually could almost play the entire infield. She was that fast and accurate with her arm.

She carried us that year to an undefeated season and undefeated through the playoffs and the title game.

We did not keep records back then in the girl’s league, but I am confident had they been kept she would have her name on every single one of them, including home runs and batting average.

I only coached that one year, and as a student of the game I was pleased with the outcome of the way it had gone.

Lisa knew as much about the game as I did and most likely she actually coached me more than I did her.

I was proud to have been her friend.

It has been about 45 years ago since I coached a young Lisa Fennell in a girl’s softball league.

She was a quiet, friendly and polite young lady.

I often thought about her over the years and wondered what road she traveled.

Her obituary answered none of my questions.

Rest in peace, my little friend.

You always were a winner.

William Holloman is a staff writer for the Mount Olive Tribune.


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