‘Hometown Hero’ Sgt. Maj. Sartor honored at pep rally

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‘Hometown Hero’ Sgt. Maj. Sartor honored at pep rally

Sartor`s family, along with fellow soldiers, pose in the end zone with the newly-retired #84.

Sartor`s family, along with fellow soldiers, pose in the end zone with the newly-retired #84.

Clarence Yarbrough

Sartor`s family, along with fellow soldiers, pose in the end zone with the newly-retired #84.

Clarence Yarbrough

Clarence Yarbrough

Sartor`s family, along with fellow soldiers, pose in the end zone with the newly-retired #84.

Lanea Bayless, Staff Writer

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The sense of liveliness that is usually present at pep rallies was this time replaced with an atmosphere of solemnity and remembrance. Last Friday, a community-wide pep rally in honor of the fallen Green Beret Sgt. Maj. James Gregory “Ryan” Sartor was held before the Lions’ rivalry game with Mexia. 

On July 13, Sartor passed away in Faryab Province, Afghanistan by enemy fire. Sartor grew up in Teague and graduated from THS in 1997 before joining the US Army in 2001. The main purpose of the pep rally, aside from cheering on the football boys before a big pre-district game, was to honor Sartor by retiring his high school football jersey, #84.

“[The retirement] was really inspiring. It reminded me that the time with our loved ones is not forever, and that I should spend more time with my family,” junior Juanita Medina said.

Prior to the pep rally, shirts were made with Sartor’s football number and the phrase “true hometown hero” printed across the front. Instead of the typical orange and white gear, attendees were asked to wear the memorial shirt, or the color green, in honor of Sartor. 

“I find it very warming that everybody wore shirts and green in [Sartor’s] honor,” sophomore Taylor Nichols said. “It was a good reminder that this pep rally was about more than just a football game.”

The cheerleaders, color guard, and twirlers performed to Lee Grant’s “Proud to be an American” in honor of Sartor’s time in the US Army.

“Performing in honor of [Sartor] really made me appreciate what we do here at THS,” senior cheerleader Hana Wills said. “Being able to express my freedom through cheerleading and dance was an amazing opportunity and I’m glad I was a part of this pep rally.”

Senior Gelico Green delivered the pep talk to rally up the team for football game against Mexia, which took place later that evening.

“I never got to meet him,” Green said, “but in the same way he got on that field and put his life on the line, my team will do the same on the blackcat field tonight.”

Clint Skinner, who graduated from THS in 1997 along with Sartor, gave a powerful speech regarding the memories he had with Sartor in high school, specifically their time on the football team.

“The man I battled and stood with for four months became is now [known to be] one of the biggest fighters our country has ever seen,” Skinner said.