Holden vs Springfield boys 11/22/19 Nathan Raymond (33) Owen Hodges (11)

Holden's Nathan Raymond (33) gets a piece of the ball as Springfield's Owen Hodges (11) takes the shot earlier this season.

By all accounts, Nathan Raymond never met a person who didn’t like him, and vice-versa, and his loss is going to leave a void in the Holden community.

Raymond, a junior on the Holden High School basketball team, was killed in a single-vehicle accident Sunday morning.

“Nathan was just one of those blue collar-type guys,” Holden basketball coach Landon DuBois said. “He was going to work really hard. He was going to do what you said, and it didn’t matter. Nathan was a guy who never complained. He really never complained. If we were going to go out and do something, he was going to get it done. He was real personable. He had no problem walking up and meeting a new person and turning strangers into friends, just one of those real great personalities. It’s just hard.”

Holden assistant principal Rusty Hutchinson and principal Kris Rountree echoed DuBois’ sentiments.

“It’s just sadness, a lot of sadness,” Rusty Hutchinson said. “Nathan was such a breath of life. He was just one of those kids that had a smile on his face – always had energy, whether he was playing or just on campus as a student. He just has a positive vibe about him.

“Nathan Raymond in a nutshell -- gritty, determined, caring, loving, energetic guy,” Hutchinson said.

“Everybody has a memory, and I think when tragedy happens, you rely upon those memories, and you use those memories to memorialize that person,” Rountree said. “He had a face and he had a name. It’s not like he was at a big school. Everybody knew Nathan. Everybody loved Nathan. He had a very glowing personality, very respectful.”

Rountree recalled Raymond, who has a twin sister and worked at L&W One Stop, helping his mother organize a fundraiser for a fellow Holden student.

“If you needed something, Nathan was always there to help you, so he understood what it meant to be a student-athlete, but he also understood what it took for him to be able to do that, too,” Rountree said. “I think that’s the memory that everybody would have of him, just selfless, willing to help others and always had a good attitude, when he always didn’t have to.”

DuBois, who’s in his first season as the Rockets’ head coach, said he’s still trying to come to terms with the loss of Raymond.

“We’ve had some players lose family members, but I’ve never lost a player,” DuBois said. “I’m kind of like the players right now. My emotions are all over the place. I’m kind of in my own little world myself, so I can only imagine what those guys are going through and what those families are going through at this time.”

According to a state police report, a 2002 GMC Sierra was traveling eastbound on U.S. Hwy. 190, and for unknown reasons, ran off the roadway, striking a tree.

Raymond was unrestrained and ejected from the vehicle, suffering fatal injuries. Four additional passengers were transported to local hospitals with serious injuries, and the crash is under investigation.

DuBois said some students visited the hospital Sunday morning, and Hutchinson said administrators will meet with the basketball team later Sunday to offer grief support. The Holden faculty and staff will take part in a prayer meeting and get support to help students through the grieving process. Rountree said administrators from other schools in the parish have reached out to offer help.

“I think that’s the hardest thing is what can you tell them?,” DuBois said. “They lost a buddy. They lost one of their brothers today. I think the biggest thing is trying to tell them that it’s OK. It’s going to be OK to grieve and it’s going to be OK to be upset and shed some tears – that that’s not unmanly or unmacho. That’s part of how we grieve. Nathan loved them. Nathan loved being a part of this team and being a part of this family. We just need to come together and take care of one another – not really much different than what we’ve been telling them. Trust in each other, and let’s get through this thing together, because that’s what it’s going to take.”

Holden’s scheduled game at French Settlement on Tuesday has been cancelled.

“Basketball is secondary in this,” DuBois said. “I couldn’t imagine trying to get those kids to turn around and sit in that locker room and having his locker open. That’s just going to take some time before they’re going to be really prepared to step out there again. I’m sure once that happens and once they’re ready, they’re going to step out there and they’re going to play harder than ever because they’re going to want to do it for their friend who loved them and loved the game of basketball and just wanted to be a Holden Rocket. They’re going to really want to get out there and work hard and do those things for them, but it’s going to take some time before we get to that point, I think.”

Raymond was a role player on the Rockets’ basketball team, and DuBois praised his work ethic there as well.

“Nathan was a guy who just worked really hard,” DuBois said. “I just actually got off the phone with (former Holden) Coach (Kenny) Almond, who coached him last year, and he made mention of it while we were talking that if we had a team that had a motor and a heart like Nathan did across the board, we would be unbelievable. Nathan just worked hard, and he strived to do what was right. It didn’t matter what it was.”

DuBois summed that work ethic up in this way:

“I could have told you, ‘hey, I want you to hit that brick wall, and I want you to hit it head-first, and I want you to do it as hard as you can until I tell you to stop,’” DuBois said. “Nathan would have hit it once. He’d have probably looked at me crazy, and if I would have said ‘Hit it again’, he would have gone at it again. He wouldn’t have second-guessed it. He wouldn’t have questioned it. He’d have just done it, and I think that’s kind of who he was.”

But maybe it’s Raymond’s ability to get along with everyone that his coach will remember most.

“Nathan meant a lot to us,” DuBois said. “I don’t know that there were many people on our campus that ever had an issue with him. He was just kind of one of those guys, he worked hard, he had a great attitude and a great personality. He’s one those guys that could bring people together. I don’t know that he had an enemy. He was just one of those kind of kids, he got along with everybody around him. It didn’t matter where you were or what kind of person you were, Nathan just found a way to get along with you, and I think that speaks wonders for the type of guy he was.”

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