By Mike Phillips
Corsicana Daily Sun
It has been 10 years and the pain is still there for everyone at Navarro — friends, family and everyone at the school and the community.
It lingers like the memory of Jason Trier and Pa Sarr, the two Navarro basketball players who lost their lives in an auto accident on Feb. 9, 2004.
They were in one of the team’s vans coming back after playing a game in Paris when an 18-wheeler crashed into the van.
They will be remembered lovingly on Saturday afternoon during halftime of the Navarro-Paris basketball game in a tribute that will touch hearts and bond this school once again, in a heartfelt reunion of players and coaches.
“Last year we realized it would be 10 years this year,’’ said Navarro Athletic Director Roark Montgomery.
“We wanted to do something and Debbie Bonner has been in contact with many of them over the years and was a big part of putting this together.”
Bonner, who was in her second year at Navarro in 2004, is the women’s soccer coach and assistant A.D. She knew all the players well. She felt the school should do something on the 10th anniversary in a way to honor Trier and Sarr and also give the members of that team a chance to come together again.
“We really don’t know what to call it,’’ Bonner said. “A couple of the guys had reached out to me. It’s something we hadn’t discussed in a while. We wanted everyone to work it out in their own way. But the players are excited about coming back.’’
A dozen players from that team will be back and they are coming from all over the country to be here. Three student trainers are coming back as well as the student manager from that team, and both the head coach, Louis Orr, and assistant coach, Johnny Estelle, who later became the head coach at Navarro, will be in Corsicana for the tribute.
Estelle was in the van with Trier and Sarr. Three players were taken to the hospital in Paris and two were air-lifted to Dallas’ Parkland and Baylor hospitals.
“Many of the administrators who spent time with them in the hospital will also be here,’’ Montgomery said. “We had some kids who were in the hospital for a long time.
“It was a pretty traumatic time for everyone.’’
That’s why this reunion will be like no other.
“We have 12 players from the team who are coming back, and we’re going to recognize them at halftime,’’ Montgomery said. “It’s something we wanted to do.’’
Two scholarships that bear their names are awarded every year at Navarro, and there are two trees that were planted in the courtyard area of the school that honors Trier and Sarr.
When you walk into the Navarro Student Events Center and gym you can look to your right and to your left, and pictures of the two fallen players are honored there.
Bonner said players are coming in from Chicago, New Orleans, Tennessee and that all of the former players were grateful and felt good about having the reunion.
“We’re happy to them get back together,’’ Montgomery said.
It will no doubt be a tearful and emotional time.
“It’s bring together a group that has been through a lot,’’ Bonner said. “So many of them were in the hospital. Mentally, it’s taken a toll on them. The thing is they want this and we’re trying to reunite them once again.
“They were such great kids,’’ she said of Trier and Sarr. “You know they will be looking down on us and be excited about everybody getting back together again.’’
Players, coaches to reunite at halftime