FNF Week 5: Hickman to honor late Coach Monroe with memorial
COLUMBIA - He was a man known by many names. 'Coach' to some. 'Dad' to others. Most people just called him 'Spanky.'
His name was Arnel Monroe, and he was Hickman High School's head football coach from 2011 until his sudden death in June 2016.
While his death stunned the Hickman community at the time, more than a year later, his memory is alive and well among the Kewpie faithful.
"One of the biggest things he would have been proud of is that he's left such a legacy," said Monroe's daughter Alyssa Galbreath. "I'm proud that so many people were honored to have him in their lives"
Those who knew Monroe best know he embodied the Hickman spirit of being a fighter.
"Kewpies are known for being fighters and he always stressed it," said Hickman Assistant Coach Dana Chambers. "Fight to the end, fight for the next play, fight for the first down. Fighting spirit is what he'll leave."
Though Monroe's fight ended a year ago, the Hickman community is honoring his legacy by dedicating a pavilion behind the scoreboard in his name before the Kewpies' game against crosstown rival Rock Bridge.
"I think this is just another time that we can come together and support one another in a time of loss and a celebration as we dedicate this pavilion to him," said Hickman Athletic Director J.D. Coffman.
In addition to the pavilion, Monroe is also remembered through a scholarship in his name given to two Hickman seniors each year: one football player and one non-football player.
"My dad was a firm believer in education both on and off the field and I'd like to continue that legacy," Galbreath said about the scholarship.
While Hickman-Rock Bridge, often dubbed the "Providence Bowl," is usually known for its on-field rivalry, the two schools have come together over the past year in the wake of tragedy.
"Hickman was hurting last year and Rock Bridge came to our aid," Galbreath said. "One of the classiest things that happened last year was Rock Bridge showing up in their jerseys to the memorial. The rivalry is huge, but it's even bigger when we come together and support each other."