Celebrating Coach Eppinette’s journey

Published: Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 10:47 AM.

There were tears, yes, but they were blotted with laughter, admiration and respect last Saturday as the community said goodbye to the late Coach Vernon Eppinette.

Eppinette died last week at the age of 65 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

He understood the gravity of his health situation in mid-January, said his brother-in-law Rev. Mike Keppler, who Eppinette approached to preside over his memorial.

Over the ensuing months Eppinette enlisted friends and family to participate in what ultimately was called a “Celebration of the Life and Journey of Vernon Eppinette”, which began with the sounding of the familiar gym horn signaling a game is about to begin.

Last week in front of several hundred attendees that roster of enlistees provided what could be considered a masters class in Vernon Eppinette, “this prince of a man, prince of a coach.”

His family and friend since boyhood, living in disparate parts of the globe, learned the impact Eppinette had on a school, community and young men – many of whom lined consecutive rows on the floor of the R. Marion Craig Coliseum – as hard-earned success defined Eppinette and the Port St. Joe High School Tiger Sharks.

The family heard from former players and friends, and a fellow coach, and heard how Eppinette not only won five state titles, earned trips to seven consecutive state championship games, but also forged men, taught life lessons focused on hard work and dedication, discipline and mental toughness.

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