By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Life was good for Ron Price last August. He had a beautiful, supportive wife, Amanda. He had a loving daughter, 3-year-old Molly Addison, a daddy’s girl.
He had a great job, head football coach at New Albany High School. His 2010 band of Bulldogs finished 13-1, falling in the state quarterfinals to eventual champion Lafayette.
“I felt like I had everything in life a man could want, except a state championship,” Price said. “I thought winning a state championship would give me everything I was looking for in life.”
His perspective changed dramatically and tragically Dec. 5, 2011, when a home intruder shot and killed Amanda and wounded him.
In an instant, the football coach who thought he nearly had it all, felt like all had been lost.
“Winning a state championship would be special, but it wouldn’t fulfill my life,” Price said. “Football is still important, but I want family, friends and relationships to be more important.”
As the kickoff for New Albany’s 2012 season nears (Friday night against Ripley) three of the things Price holds so dear – Molly Addison, the Bulldogs and his faith – remain significant in his life. Still, New Albany’s enthusiastic 5-foot-3 cheerleader – Amanda Price – won’t be there, standing on the track outside the fieldhouse where she saluted and comforted the football team, win or lose.
“It’s going to be tough,” Ron Price said, tears rolling down his cheeks. “She was my best friend, my No. 1 fan. I’ll miss her being there in the good times and bad times. She always knew the right things to say.
“She was a great wife, a great supporter. She let me be the football coach at New Albany. She allowed me to do my job.”
She was always there
Ron Price was always there, 100 percent, for his football team … with Amanda’s encouragement.
“I wished I had given her my best,” he said, looking back. “I feel like I gave her the leftovers a lot of times.”
It didn’t matter to Amanda. She cherished her role as the coach’s wife. She always knew the right thing to do. That’s the one trait the coach loved most about her.
When a player had a birthday that in someway was overlooked, she would bake cupcakes.
When a player needed help with academics, she was there.
When the coach needed a shoulder to lean on, some advice or even a prayer, she was there.
“She was a special coach’s wife,” Ron Price said. “She was a coordinator. She did all those little things that nobody notices, but our players did.”
For that reason, the Bulldogs have dedicated this season to Amanda. They will wear purple (her favorite color) ribbon stickers on the backs of their maroon helmets. Purple ribbons will also be painted on the field.
“She was willing to fight for them and they are willing to fight for her,” Price said of his players. “I told them if we are going to dedicate this season to her, we are going to do it the right way.
“We are going to practice, we are going to play … no joking around. That’s what she would expect. Our kids have stepped up to that challenge. Hopefully, this will be a season Amanda would be proud of.”
Life is slowly returning to normal – if there is such a thing anymore – for Ron Price as the 2012 kickoff nears. However, he knows no football season will ever be complete without his assistant head coach there beside him.
“It scares me to death to have to face the season without Amanda,” he said.
Gene Phelps is senior sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org