The ESPY Award for Coach of the Year is usually a joyful celebration. But in 2018, the winners weren’t there as it went to three slain Parkland sports coaches who saved their students’ lives during the Feb. school massacre.
So moving. The 2018 ESPYS Coach of the Year Award went to three brave men who are no longer with us. The Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killed 17 people, including three sports coaches who helped save their students’ lives through heroic actions. They were honored on July 18 at the annual awards ceremony for their bravery, as well as their commitment to their pupils. MSD HS football coach Aaron Feis, geography teacher and cross-country coach Scott Biegel and school athletic director and wrestling coach Scott Hixon all lost their lives in the mass shooting, while saving the lives of countless students.
A video montage narrated by actress Connie Britton was shown ahead of the award. It told of each of the men’s achievements and love for their pupils. MSD students shared how much they adored their coaches and the difference they made in their lives. MSD head football coach Elliott Bonner and the slain coaches family members were on hand to accept their posthumous award and pay tribute to the three men. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as the beloved coaches were remembered for their selflessness, as cutaways to the audience showed people wiping away tears. Coach Bonner said that the issue of gun control wasn’t a political issue, but “a human issue.” He hoped the senseless tragedy at his school will lead to more dialogue and “action towards a solution to safe schools all across America.”
Feis threw himself in front of students and acted as a human shield when gunman and former student Nikolas Cruz burst into the high school in Parkland FL and opened fire with an AR-15 assault rifle. “He died the same way he lived — he put himself second,” the school’s football program spokeswoman Denise Lehtio told CNN following the massacre. “He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero.”
Aaron Feis, Scott Beigel and Chris Hixon of Stoneman Douglas High School were more than just coaches.
They were heroes. pic.twitter.com/xag1iuggjI
— ESPN (@espn) July 19, 2018
This year's Best Coach Award is posthumously given to Aaron Feis, Scott Beigel and Chris Hixon – the 3 coaches who died protecting students from gunfire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. https://t.co/T3gtmmd6PF #ESPYS pic.twitter.com/MzPhYxXZpQ
— Good Morning America (@GMA) July 19, 2018
Biegel held open the door to his classroom, ushering fleeing students inside. He was shot outside the classroom door but made it inside and was able to lock the door. Cruz then saw his bleeding and dying body inside and decided to bypass the room, thinking it was empty, In the process, Biegel sacrificed his life for MSD students. “He died shielding his students from gunfire. He made the ultimate sacrifice to do what he so often effortlessly did — make the lives of other people better,” his friend Matt Hipps wrote on Facebook following the shooting.
Hixon sped towards Cruz in a golf cart in an attempt to disarm him while shepherding students away from the killer. He was named the 2017 Broward County athletic director of the year, and was scheduled to coach the MSD wrestling team in the district championships the day after the shooting. “He was trying to move kids out of the way of the shooter and that is 100 percent Chris because he was looking out for them and they adored him for genuinely caring about them,” Allen Held, wrestling coach at Cypress Bay High told the Miami Herald at the time.