Published: Oct 19, 2011 02:11 AM
Modified: Oct 18, 2011 06:59 PM
Friends, family, students, teachers, coaches, current and former players came to Holly Springs High School for one last goodbye on Sunday.
A beloved teacher and former football coach Jim Hynus, 51, passed away Oct. 11, and his visitation was held in the school's gymnasium.
Tables and displays of photos, news articles and even some memorabilia from previous coaching stops such as Apex - where he was an assistant coach for 10 years - were set aside for those to look at as the line moved slowly around the out-of-bounds lines on the basketball court.
Cancer is a powerful disease, and it flexed its muscle by ending the life of someone so vibrant, so young and so... big (Hynus, a former Marshall University offensive lineman, stood a good 6 feet, 5 inches and weighed about 260 pounds).
But cancer can't erase the impact Hynus had on his players on and off the field.
And it won't wipe away the memories of a magical 2009 season that united coach with team and team with community.
The football team's first senior class had gone just 0-11 and 2-9 in its two previous seasons under Hynus, the school's first head coach.
Hynus and his Golden Hawks nearly won the conference in 2009, but clinched the hearts of the Holly Springs community with their heart-stopping, last-minute heroics.
Through September and October, Holly Springs won six consecutive games. Five of the six wins included a go-ahead touchdown in the last 61 seconds of their respective contests.
I nicknamed them the "Cardiac Hawks."
If good coaching is identified in winning close games, then Hynus was a great one during his final season as head coach. He stepped down after that 2009 season but remained a teacher at the school.
"Everybody trusted everybody. And when that happens, you have no fear of not winning," said former player Corron Boston.
The most memorable of those nail-biting victories was a touchdown pass with 36 seconds left that knocked off rival Fuquay-Varina 28-25. The most unlikely was a fumble return for a touchdown with 59 seconds left that defeated Cary 21-14. The Golden Hawks finished in a three-way tie for second in the conference that year and earned their first trip to the state playoffs.
Something about pulling off win after win in some of the most difficult ways possible, plus having the school's first senior class playing for the school's first coach, led to a special bond.
You could see the mutual admiration with every post-game interview during that season.
"From the very first day to the end of the season, we all shared a bond that we will never forget and can never be broken," said Boston, who now plays for Lenior-Rhyne College. "I don't even remember the losses. I just remember the great moments."
Some of those moments weren't from games. They were from being around the man they called coach.
"I'll always remember how happy he could make football practice," Boston said. "Some days it would suck. Nobody would want to be there. He'd tell a quick joke - everybody's laughing, we're running around having a good time again."
Boston continued: "Even when he wasn't trying to be funny, it ended up being funny because of the character that he was."
Last week gave reason for Boston and others to reflect on that season and the ones before it. More than just memories were brought up, there were also the lessons they learned.
"All that we think about how fun (he was) and how different he made us as people," Boston said. "Sometimes when we'd come to practice it would be about us - and then he showed us it's not just about you - it's about this team."
With just 30 minutes left in the scheduled visitation on Sunday, there were still about 100 people in line to give the Hynus family their condolences.
The gymnasium was the only place big enough to fit all those who wanted to be there.
That said it all.