Coaches, family members, community and religious leaders came out to honor Fred Norris at a candlelight ceremony at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church Saturday night.
Norris helped found the peewee football team the Riverside Eagles in an effort to help young children find a positive activity to be involved with.
Norris died Aug. 28 at the age of 48.
Coaches Omar Avery, Chris Anderson, Kelvin Stacker and Tyrone Smith were some of the speakers.
Smith was the coach of the Clarksdale Lumberjacks and Stacker was the coach of the YOU Bears.
“Good evening everybody,” Smith said. “God is good. You may not believe it, but I do. I know Fred is alright and I’m going to miss him to the fullest. Because, in spite of what anybody believed about our relationship, it was rumored for a long time Fred and Tyrone didn’t like each other.”
Smith said while they were opponents on the field for a time, off the field they were friends.
Eventually, all three teams merged into the Clarksdale Bears as they are today.
Norris was instrumental in the merger.
Avery and Norris helped start the Riverside Eagles. The two were close friends since they were children.
Both attended Pleasant Valley Baptist Church together where John Givins is the pastor. Givins also spoke at the candlelight Saturday night.
“Fred told me one time God told me to start a football team,” Avery said. “Anybody who knew Fred, they knew me.
“Whatever he was down for, I was down with him, wrong or right. We were just going to suffer the consequences.”
Avery said all of the coaches who started the Riverside Eagles made mistakes during their younger years.
“We knew these kids needed somebody to teach them, so we got together,” Avery said. “We went to Micheal Stringer. Micheal Stringer was a coach at Oakhurst school.”
Avery said Stringer gave the Eagles all his old things he was not using and they still barely had enough equipment to play.
“If the referee would have inspected the equiment, they wouldn’t have even allowed us to play,” Avery said. “We had 11 helmets. When the offense came off the field, the defense had to wait for the offense to give them the helmets. The referee used to have to hold the game up.”