A couple hundred students gathered around the discus field at Timber Creek High School on Wednesday night to honor Chase Dennis, a 2016 graduate who died Saturday in a swimming accident at Big Hill Lake.
“He was a guy that had no enemies,” track and football coach Lonnie Judd said. “Everyone was friends with Chase. He always had a smile on his face and was a great kid to be around.”
Dennis graduated from Coffeyville Community College in Kansas, where he was on the track and field team. He recently signed a letter of intent with Northwestern State.
He was a defensive lineman on the football team at Timber Creek and a state medalist in discus. The school retired his No. 34 jersey Wednesday night.
During the vigil, photos of Chase surrounded the discus circle. Coaches, peers and family members paid their respects.
Elise Hodges also graduated from Timber Creek in 2016 and was Dennis’ throwing partner.
“Chase was full of life. He was so happy all the time,” said Hodges, who also went to the state track tournament with Dennis. “He was a great person inside and out.”
“He had an impact on people’s lives – even with the little things like smiling at you or saying hello in the hallway. We’re all lucky to know him and I’m glad we could honor him in this way.”
Dennis was voted second-team all-district during his junior and senior seasons. One of his closest friends was 2016 defensive tackle Trevor Goree. The two met in the ninth grade and quickly hit it off.
“He was a fun guy. I never saw him without a smile on his face,” Goree said. “He was one that never let anything get him down. He was an amazing soul.
“I believe he touched everyone’s lives.”
In the junior college ranks, Dennis ranked third nationally in the discus and fourth in the hammer throw at Coffeyville heading into the NJCAA national outdoor track meet this week in El Dorado, Kansas.
“Chase was the kind of guy that people gravitated toward,” football coach Kevin Golden said. “He was a happy-go-lucky kid.”
“He was a great defensive lineman. He didn’t take any plays off, but the biggest thing was he cared about all the other guys and he was that kind of leader.”
Timber Creek’s Athletic Booster Club has begun a scholarship fund to be awarded in Dennis' name at the school's track and field banquet on Friday.
Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. on May 22 at Sunset Baptist Church in Grand Prairie.