Just over a year past having his hand raised as a 2013 wrestling state champion, news of Dammion Heard’s death was being mourned by family, friends and others in the wrestling community. Heard was a 2013 Fossil Ridge graduate.
Heard, 20, was a freshman at Western State Colorado University, where he was wrestled for the Division II team.
He went missing on March 30 and his body was found three days later near his vehicle on Bureau of Land Management property near Gunnison, Colo.
After finishing his sophomore and junior years as a state runner-up, Heard went undefeated in his senior season en route to the 113-pound state title. Heard was also a USA Freestyle state champion in his junior year.
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In an interview during his senior year, Heard recounted that his start in the sport was a result of a bake sale in Azle.
While visiting a bake sale at a grocery store, Heard and his father, Gary Heard, picked up a flyer publicizing a local wrestling club.
“He was good at it Day 1,” Gary said of his son’s ability at the new sport. “He paid attention to it and his moves were really nice, and he began to excel. He was Rookie State Champ at the end of his first year.”
Heard had natural ability but still needed hard work to excel, as both his father and Fossil Ridge head wrestling coach, Tony Lopez, said that Heard knew where he had to focus his training and studying.
Prior to his junior season, Lopez said he and Heard discussed the renewed focus it would take to get over the hump of being a simply a good wrestler and becoming a great wrestler.
In the senior year interview, Heard acknowledged he would need to “buckle down” on his studies and focus in the wrestling room to reach the goals he set for himself.
He was a team captain in both his junior and senior seasons.
“He was very calm-headed and focused,” Lopez said. “He understood the sport of wrestling. He was a great kid.”
His dedication to his success was, in part, evidenced by getting up at 5 a.m. during the wrestling season to put in his own running regime in addition to the team workouts.
Outside of wrestling, Heard has been consistently characterized as a loving spirit who relished opportunities to help others.
Although no suspects were being sought in Colorado by police as a result of Heard’s death, Gary Heard said there is no reason to suspect he took his own life.
“There is no evidence to support suicide,” Gary said. “There’s zero evidence to prove that.”
Until further information is obtained, the “why factor” will hover over the family, and Gary Heard said he is working on his own to obtain more facts.
“We just can’t believe the outpouring of support,” Gary Heard said. “We’ve been up till two or three in the morning with students talking and telling stories of Dammion. What we continue to hear is that he loves life and having fun. He was always helping friends who needed it. He was always trying to bring peace. I heard how he intervened in a girl’s life and talked to her like her dad, and she was able to pull herself back up.”
Heard’s funeral was held on Sunday, following a memorial service at Western State Colorado University on April 10.
A memorial fund has been established for the Heard family. Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank location, or checks can be sent to the Heard Memorial Fund at the bank, PO Box 975, Springtown, Texas, 76082.