BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Preparing for the state tournament comes with a lot of stress, but imagine having to prepare just days after losing one of your teammates. That is what Ron Kidd and the Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles had to do.
“It’s going to be a game without him. It is going to be emotional. You really do not know how everyone is going to react. We just want to leave it all out on the court,” Kidd said.
Dwayne Richardson Jr. was shot and killed on the night of Sunday, May 2, 2021. He was the sixth man for the Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles, a key member of their team. Over the last few weeks, Head Coach Ron Kidd said he was playing some of the best basketball in his entire career.
“When he became the sixth man, he understood his role and I think he loved it. I think he realized when he went into the game it was his time to shine. He had to play good offense good defense and pull us out of whatever situation we were in,” Kidd said.
His teammate, Ben Gilliam, said they are going to leave it all out on the court for Richardson.
“Well we are going to do what he did. He put everything out the last couple of weeks and you could tell he was enjoying it now with that big smile on his face, so we are going to go out there with a big smile on our face and we are going to play as hard as he did,” Gilliam said.
Nothing can ever prepare for a moment like this, but with a tight-knit team in Woodrow Wilson, they are determined to find the strength and push forward.
“They just give me strength. I see the strength and they make me strong, and I hope I put strength and courage in them also,” Kidd said.
While taking the court for Thursday’s game will not be easy, the team is going to take everything Dwayne was and play for 12.
“That heart and soul and hustle that he had and big smile,” Kidd said.
“His courage, his heart and just his intensity. That is all going to be there with us tomorrow and that will always be with us,” Gilliam said.
His big smile might not light up the hardwood in Charleston, but his spirit will fly high.
“We will miss him but we will never forget him,” Kidd said.
Woodrow Wilson will face Morgantown on Thursday, May 6, 2021 in the State Tournament. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.