Huskies mourn coach’s sudden loss
Adam Fortune, one of the area's most tenured and respected high school football coaches, died July 7 of cardiomyopathy due to an enlarged heart. He was 37.
He is survived by wife Jennifer, a teacher at Lucketts Elementary School, and a legion of students and athletes, past and present, who were struck by his sudden death.
"It still hasn't hit me that you're gone," tweeted one Husky student, using the hashtag #FortuneStrong.
"It's just sad no future Huskies will be touched like we were," stated another.
Tuscarora athletic director Derek Farrey took to Twitter as well, saying "You always had a way of making the day better for everyone. I will miss you!"
Reached by phone for comment the next day, Farrey's emotion was evident.
"He was one of the kindest individuals I've ever met in my life," he said. "He cared so much about the kids and everyone else, he just wanted to make sure everyone was having a good day."
Farrey spoke about the reaction he had seen from the Tuscarora community.
"We're all shocked. Can't believe this has happened," he said. "The students are rallying around each other for support."
Fortune, a physical education teacher, was preparing for his 15th season overall and his fifth with the Tuscarora High School program. He served as the top defensive lieutenant for head coach Michael Burnett, who teamed with Fortune at Broad Run High School to win state championships in 2008 and 2009 before both moved to the new program at Tuscarora.
"He was my best friend," said Burnett, stammering for words. "What comes to my mind is 'irreplaceable.' People think we'll move on, we'll get past it, but you don't get past this kind of loss, you just hope to learn to deal with it."
Burnett said Fortune had multiple opportunities to be a head coach, but the two men complemented each other too well to break up their partnership.
An impromptu memorial gathering was held at the school's football stadium on the evening of Fortune's death. The outpouring of grief was displayed in signs, candles and flowers.
Farrey said that as of July 8, definite plans had not been established as to how the school or the football team would officially honor Fortune's memory. Burnett said he wanted the program to find a "unique, special" way to dedicate the upcoming season to Fortune, "because that's what he was."
In a statement, Jennifer Fortune said her husband's heart was twice the average size.
"Makes sense," she wrote. "He had twice as much love to give."