James River High School girls soccer coach Ian Stowe, who abruptly died earlier this week at age 32, was remembered Thursday night with an outpouring of support before the Rapids’ game.
Past players and friends of Stowe drove from several states away to be a part of the evening and celebrate the influence he had in their lives.
“If you talk to anybody, they will tell you the same thing — super kind, extremely empathetic, great sense of humor,” said James River activities director Bryan Hannum.
“That’s why we have 200-some signs out here, and we’re not done yet.”
Stowe, who was a standout player at Clover Hill and William & Mary, underwent surgery to remove a tumor on his brain stem in 2012 but defeated the cancer and went on to become a fixture on the local soccer scene.
He was found unresponsive Monday morning, and doctors were unable to revive him.
His final act was one friends and players said spoke to his generosity — Stowe was an organ donor, and was able to save five lives through his decision.
Stowe’s wife, Kelly, is a physical education teacher at James River. The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.
Hannum remembered Ian Stowe as a coach who had a great connection with his players.
“He understood the young female athlete,” Hannum said. “There are many people who are coming back who remember him as a mentor.”
Before James River’s game, a prerecorded tribute played from the team’s captains, and a moment of silence was held.
The large purple rock at the entrance to the Rapids’ athletic facility was painted with “Rapids on 3,” one of Stowe’s favorite sayings with the team.
Many wore shirts that read “#StoweStrong” which were made by William & Mary during Stowe’s cancer treatments.
Stowe had served as the Rapids’ head coach for seven years.