A gesture of truth and love: Not a dry eye in the stands as Troy football team displays its support for McGregor community

Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 6:35 PM CDT
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McGREGOR, Texas (KWTX) - A Central Texas high school football game between two rivals paused for a moment of unity, which left not a dry eye in the stands, following the tragic loss of five people in the small community of McGregor just a day before before the Friday matchup.

Thursday morning around 8 a.m., authorities discovered a gunman had killed a family in his McGregor home. The victims were identified as Monica Delgado Aviles, 38, and two of her children: 15-year-old Miguel Avila and 14-year-old Natalie Avila. Both Miguel and Natalie Avila were students at McGregor High School.

The gunman also shot to death his next-door neighbor Lori Aviles, 47, a local respiratory therapist assistant and her daughter, two-time Miss McGregor, Natalie Aviles, 20.

McGregor ISD canceled all activities on Thursday but decided to carry on with school activities Friday, including the home varsity football game against the Troy Trojans in an effort “to provide some sense of normalcy, even in times that are not normal,” said McGregor Superintendent James Lenamon.

The Trojans offered their public support during halftime.

The team sent over a letter which was read on the loudspeaker by McGregor’s public announcer as the Trojans held up the universal sign for “I love you,” which is also the Trojan and Trojanette school hand sign, while standing on their sidelines near the McGregor Bulldogs as they took a knee.

Many players were seen wiping away tears.

The Troy Trojans sent a letter which was read on the loudspeaker by McGregor’s public announcer...
The Troy Trojans sent a letter which was read on the loudspeaker by McGregor’s public announcer as the Trojans held up the universal sign for “I love you,” which is also the Trojan and Trojanette school hand sign.(Courtesy Photo)

“We wanted to let them know you are not alone in this time of tragedy,” said Troy head coach Stephen Hermesmeyer. “We weren’t doing it for any other reason other than that’s just what you do.”

McGregor announcer Kevin Hughlett’s voice cracked as he read the words written by booster club member Alyssa Ketcham to the crowd.

The message, in part, said, “Tonight is a gesture of truth. Truth that we, the Troy Trojans, are a community that is standing behind you today. A gesture of honor, honoring the precious lives that were lost just a day ago and a gesture of love, love to the McGregor community that is hurting of a tragic event. May this gesture be, for you, a moment free of pain.”

Booster club president James Richter said the tragedy hit close to home in Troy as many of the young athletes there have grown up with the McGregor players.

“We have a lot of kids in our community that have grown up with kids in McGregor, that have played sports their whole lives with them, and it was just a way for us to come together as two communities that battle on the field but come together when they’re needed,” Richter said.

It was a feeling shared by Booster Club Vice President Marcus Ketcham.

“Being a member of Troy and knowing what was going on before it happened,” Ketcham said. “Just being there in that moment it was amazing to be a part of that and glad to have done it.”

Troy running back and free safety Cooper Valle said the moment reminded him that there was something much larger at play than football.

“Being a player on the field, it was really moving being a part of something that was bigger than the game,” Valle said.

Troy Receiver and Cornerback Reed Ketcham was also moved and thankful to be a part of supporting the Bulldogs.

“It felt really big to be a small part in a really big thing we did for McGregor’s community.”

The Bulldogs led the game 24-14 going into the half but ended up loosing to Troy 27-24.

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