(WBIR) The death of Will McKamey Tuesday night was one that did not affect just the staff and students at Grace Christian Academy, the Naval cadet's alma mater.
"The reach has been enormous," headmaster Rob Hammond said Wednesday. "(McKamey) was here just a few weeks ago, and he was here on campus. He even read to his younger sister's class."
The freshman cadet collapsed during spring football practice in Maryland over the weekend. He remained in a coma until Tuesday evening.
McKamey's father is the coach of Grace Christian's football team.
"Yeah, it's been very difficult -- emotionally last night was difficult for me and for the staff," Hammond said.
Condolences have been pouring in -- a lot through social media. Some from GCA parents, others from total strangers, and a few from schools that normally battle the Rams, athletically speaking.
"They care about students and said if there's anything they can do to help in the days ahead," Hammond added.
Several schools, normally rivals and opponents on the football field the standout running back played on, have shown their support for the family.
"Just to see the amount of support and the people that were coming together for him and his family, I just thought that was an awesome thing," Rusty Bradley, head coach of Christian Academy of Knoxville said. The two schools have arguably one of the strongest rivalries in Knox County.
However, that rivalry is only on the football field, the coach added.
"It's a special thing to be able to know people that way and was fortunate to know Will because some of our kids knew him, and was good friends with a lot of kids around Grace," Bradley said.
Other schools around East Tennessee, schools that played against GCA in the past also showed their support.
"We heard about him all week from coach, and he was a good leader," recalled Harriman High School player Garrett Greene.
"As a team on Monday and Tuesday, at weightlifting we prayed for the family," Harriman coach Travis Tapp added.
That school's principal, Scott Calahan, also emphasized the blurred lines of the rivalry during a time of crisis.
"Regardless of the school and regardless of the rivalry, your heart goes out to them," Calahan said.
Greenback School also showed their condolences for McKamey. On their website, they wrote, "The entire Greenback coaching staff, administration, and fans mourn the loss of Midshipman McKamey, and send our deepest regret. We send our most heartfelt prayers to the McKamey family, and ask for God's help in bringing them comfort and peace. God Speed #24."
All across East Tennessee, the state--and even the country--people paused to remember 19-year-old Will McKamey. 3-26-14
Lawmakers are proposing a bill to rename a segment of Oak Ridge Highway in honor of McKamey. The proposal would rename the segment from the intersection with Beaver Ridge Road to the intersection with Stoneridge Drive. It would then be known as the "Midshipman William McKamey Memorial Highway."
That bill is expected to be taken up next week.