It’s that time of the year. The ESPYs (short for Excellence in Sports Performance) air Wednesday night, and lucky for us, the annual award show presented by ESPN is full of jaw-dropping powerful moments not only from the field of play but off it, too.
While the sports world gathers to honor some of the most athletic feats in the year that was, there will be plenty more time to recognize those whose actions and words are far more impressive than any win-loss record or stat line.
Look no further than Aaron Feis, Scott Beigel and Chris Hixon, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School coaches who were killed in the February mass shooting that claimed the lives of 17 people. The three men ran toward the gunfire when it erupted and shielded students along the way.
Feis, Beigel and Hixon will be posthumously honored with the Best Coach Award at the 2018 ESPYs.
They’re being honored for “their immeasurable bravery in the face of danger and for their ultimate sacrifice to protect the lives of countless students,” according to Alison Overholt, vice president and editor in chief of ESPN The Magazine.
A little more about the men:
Feis, 37, was an assistant football coach and security guard at the Parkland, FL school. A 1999 graduate of Stoneman Douglas, he returned to coach in 2002, and also took on the role of the team’s college recruiter coordinator.
“He was the connection to the kids. Kids would do more for Feis then for others. Why? Because, they didn’t want to let Feis down,” Broward Country Sheriff Scott Israel, who coached with Feis, told the Sun-Sentinel.
Beigel, 35, was a cross-country coach and counselor at the school He dove head first into the job with enthusiasm and a goal greater than cultivating fast runners.
“Coach Beigel showed up at the very beginning of the year without a single clue about cross country, and yet he made a huge impact,” sophomore Annagrace Myers told ESPN. “He never taught us anything technical about running. He taught us how to run with our hearts.”
That’s right, Beigel didn’t know a thing about running, but he was brought aboard because he was a “master of team-building.”
Hixon, 49, was the school’s athletic director and wrestling coach, who would always step up to fill the role of head coach when various teams couldn’t find a coach. And, he did it for no additional pay.
“He did it for free because he wasn’t eligible for extra pay,” Jeff Morford, an assistant principal, told the Miami Herald. “Cross country, volleyball, wrestling, basketball and track and field. He was there until 9 p.m. most nights. He was all about the kids. He would do anything for them.”
The 2018 ESPY Awards will air live on Wednesday, July 18, at 8 p.m. EST.