In the hopes of giving back to one of their own, Gainesville football team members set up a donation collection for the family of former linebacker Devan Stringer and La’Kiera Smith, who tragically lost their 11-day-old daughter Monday.
Coaches accepted donations in a small pail in Gainesville’s football offices prior to Wednesday’s practice to help pay for the memorial services for Noelle Marie Stringer. Devan Stringer, a sophomore linebacker for Appalachian State, helped lead the Red Elephants to a state semifinal appearance as a senior in 2013.
Gainesville head coach Bruce Miller said he told his team of Stringer’s loss at Monday’s practice.
“I’ve never seen a team react as ours did,” said Miller. “Usually, they sit there stonefaced, when you tell them something, but it was a unanimous ‘Oh no’ that came out of 100 players’ mouths. It was like, what can we do?”
Miller suggested that his team take up a donation at Tuesday’s practice. There is also a GoFundMe page set up for Stringer’s family, called “Noelle’s (‘No No’) Memorial Fund” (http://www.gofundme.com/td3pxzy9). As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, the page had raised over $1,500.
Miller said it was ‘amazing’ to see his players contribute for the cause.
“It’s really heartwarming to see our guys reach out,” he said. “We really feel for Devan and La’Kiera, and we want them to know that we’re here for them.”
Former Gainesville teammate Deshaun Watson said Monday that he and Stringer were “like brothers, and his family is part of my family.” Watson, and his Clemson team, is set to host Appalachian State Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in Death Valley.
“They’ve been closer friends since they were 4 years old,” said Miller. “They’ve been playing football forever. Devan always had a special relationship with anybody.”