LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — A new era is set to begin for Liberty as the Flames jump to Conference USA under the direction of a new head coach. But Jamey Chadwell is already facing adversity following the death of a freshman offensive lineman.
On Sunday, Aug. 6, Liberty University announced the death of Tajh Boyd, a freshman offensive lineman who joined the program in January. Police later revealed that the 19-year-old from Chesapeake had died by suicide.
Chadwell addressed the sudden unexpected loss of one of his players in a press conference five days later.
“To know that there are so many people that are praying for the community and the team. That have obviously experienced loss. Whether that is listening or that is a word of encouragement,” said Chadwell. “It gets you through.”
With the tragedy still fresh on their minds, Chadwell is making sure the Flames get the support they need while staying mentally prepared for the season.
“It’s been challenging to say the least to try to navigate both sides of that issue but I think our team has handled it the best you can ask them to do as we continue to move forward,” said Chadwell.
The former Coastal Carolina head coach arrived in Lynchburg in December with high optimism that he can take the Flames to new heights.
“I was craving to be back in an environment like this. It’s a special, special place and I know it’s got special people,” said Chadwell during his introductory press conference. “We have the opportunity to take this football program to the next level in Conference USA to compete for conference championships starting in 2024, start competing for the CFP.”
So far, Chadwell has seen development from parts of his roster, with questions still to answer elsewhere.
“You know I think everyone has had their days a little bit,” said Chadwell during fall camp. “I think as a whole defensively as ahead just from a standpoint of d-line, linebacker, secondary there’s some impact players of all levels there. I think from an offensive standpoint trying to determine your quarterback that slows you down a little bit from developing as much as you want to because you’re trying to figure out how to be that guy.”
In the aftermath of losing a teammate, the Flames hope football can aid in the healing process.
“I think you’ve got to find your sanctuary among the challenges of life and for these guys that can be their sanctuary for two hours or whatever it may be and so I think it allows them to get some of the emotions out as well and bring some of the emotions up,” said Chadwell. “But they need it more than ever now.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, 988.