A hush fell over the gym as LaGrange High wrestling coach Scooter Weathers walked onto the hardwood floor of the gymnasium.
It was a few minutes before the start of the Granger Duals wrestling tournament, and the chatter that is usually prevalent at that time was non-existent.
The reason for that solemn, respectful attitude among the folks in the gym was due to the ceremony that was about to take place.
Stefan Smith, a former LaGrange High wrestling great, was killed in Afghanistan earlier this year while serving as a sergeant in the U.S. Army.
Smith was on a patrol when he and a handful of other soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber.
On Saturday, three of Smith’s singlets were retired during a ceremony that included members of Smith’s family.
The singlets were all placed in frames, and they included medals from Smith’s time as a Granger wrestler.
One of the frames was presented to Smith’s mother, one went to his father, and one will remain on display at LaGrange High.
“Stefan Smith, he was a great man, a great husband, a great father, a great friend,” Weathers said. “I’m a lot better person by knowing him.”
Smith enjoyed an exceptional wrestling career at LaGrange.
During his four years, he was 154-47 with 62 career pins, and he only lost one match during his senior season.
Smith lost in the state semifinals as a senior to finish with a 50-1 record.
The only wrestler who has more career wins at LaGrange High is Archie Dudley, who is now an assistant coach at the school.
“When he gets in the circle, I know what I’ve got,” Weathers said of Smith. “He’s going to give me six minutes of fight, no matter what.”
After high school, Smith got married, and he and his wife Kristi had three children.
Smith was a police officer for awhile, and eventually he decided to join the army, and he was serving his first term in Afghanistan when he was killed in July.
Smith wanted to honor Smith, and he thought retiring the singlets would be a nice way to do that.
“He was a special man,” Weathers said. “He gave everything, paid the ultimate sacrifice so we can do what we do.”