LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7)-- The Virginia University of Lynchburg football team is mourning one of its own. Trent Westray, originally from North Carolina, died Thursday night in a car crash, according to Lynchburg Police.
Trent Westray was a freshman at Virginia University of Lynchburg. He died in a car crash just hours before leaving for his first college football road game. Courtesy Rene Shelton.
"He fought his whole entire life to earn an athletic scholarship, earned it, got to the point where he could actually put it into use and then passed away before it happened," said Bobby Rome, head coach of VUL's football team. "If that doesn't put things into perspective for some of our student athletes, I don't know what will."
Westray was a freshman receiver for the team. He had traveled with the team, but he had not yet played in a game. His chance would come this past Saturday against Savannah State University in Georgia.
Thursday evening, the team had practice followed by a meeting. After the meeting, Westray went with four of his teammates to off-campus housing so someone could pick something up and take it back to campus. However, the men never made it back.
Just before 9:30 p.m. the car crashed in the 2300 block of Carroll Avenue. Three players were treated for injuries. Westray died at the scene. The investigation is ongoing.
"When he got his first offer from VUL, he cried. He cried because he had the opportunity to go to school. He had the opportunity to play college football," said Rome. "This kid is 18 years old. He was here today, gone tomorrow."
Students and athletes at VUL made a makeshift memorial for Westray and held a vigil Sunday night. His fellow players said he had an impact not just on the team or the school, but the Lynchburg community as a whole.
Last month a woman posted on Facebook after her sick mother's doctor appointment. When her mother walked into the office, the waiting room was packed. It just so happened to be the same day the VUL football team was getting their physicals.
The woman said she was compelled to post on Facebook because of the kindness the young football players showed her mother.
"All the seats in the waiting room were taken, but one of the young men offered his seat for my mom," the woman wrote.
Rome learned about the Facebook post and asked his players who offered the seat to the woman. Westray raised his hand.
"He was so proud to stick his hand up so high," said Rome. "That is the kind of kid he was."
Westray's teammates said he had a big heart and was always kind. One player told WDBJ7 that he will make sure his kind heart lives on.
"He would not want us to slow down. He would want us to keep pressing, full speed ahead," said Isaiah Patterson, a wide receiver for the team. "That is exactly what we are going to do."
The Small College Sports Report announced Monday it has created an award in Westray's name, the "Trent Westray Small College Football Player of The Year Award," in honor of Trent and his life, according to a Facebook post.
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