MARYVILLE - Local high schools get together to practice and honor the memory of former Maryville College assistant coach, Cody Bowers. The East Tennessee 7 on 7 Pass Perimeter Practice Day let local high schools work on coverages, route trees and formations against new opponents.
Alcoa High School assistant coach Brian Gossett was quick to point out however, that this is far from the real thing.
"A few people will come watch you play 7 on 7, you put some linemen out there and hundreds of thousands will come and watch."
Some people are less focused on the football at the event. Corey and Claire Bowers-Kirkland, for example. The two are there to help remember Cody Bowers.
Cody played and coached football at Maryville College, until tragedy struck.
Back in November of 2007, Bowers crashed his truck into a tree on campus, just a few hundred yards from the football stadium. Trey Lefler, of Loudon, was also killed in the crash.
Corey is Cody's sister. Claire is her daughter, Cody's niece.
The day Bowers died, Corey found out she was pregnant with Claire.
The Perimeter Practice Day always warms Corey's heart.
"It just keeps his memory alive and makes us really proud."
Corey and Claire walk to "Legends Rock," a statue of a helmet, dedicated to Cody. On its marble sides are engraved four words: "commitment," "pride," "team" and "honor."
Next, is the scene of the crash. A couple of crosses stand there today, adorned with Cody's hat and whistle from his coaching days.
"I don't know if it gets easier," said Corey, "as much as you learn to adapt to it."
Even with the heartache, you can still feel Cody's heart beat on campus. The statue, the cross, the 7 on 7 practice day. His love for football keeps his name alive.
"The story gets told every year," Corey said, "not only to all the teams involved here, but also to all the new team members that come into Maryville College."
So Claire never met her uncle, but has a feeling he would have been her biggest coach in life.
"He'd teach me how to play football," said Claire, "he'd mostly say yes to everything, but I'm thinking he'd be the greatest uncle ever."
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