Knoch vigil planned for slain W&J player McNerney
Preston Saxton hopes a candlelight vigil tonight in honor of former classmate Tim McNerney will help the Knoch community heal.
McNerney, 21, of Penn Township, died from head trauma after he was jumped by robbers on his way home from a Washington, Pa., tavern early on Oct. 4. Police are investigating his death; no arrests have been made.
A senior running back on the Washington & Jefferson College football team, McNerney holds the all-time rushing record at Knoch High School.
Saxton said he and several of his Knoch teammates plan to memorialize McNerney at 7:30 p.m. today at Knoch Knights Stadium.
“We're trying to bring the community together and have a few words for Tim,” said Saxton, who now lives in Cranberry and is a student at Robert Morris University.
“A lot of people are hurt by this,” said Saxton. “With everybody coming together, the moral of this is to cherish what you have now and take nothing for granted.”
Saxton said he wants people to remember the good times with McNerney and plans to share a humorous story about his friend.
“I think it also helps us to hear some funny stories about Timmy,” he said.
Saxton said T-shirts that resemble football jerseys with McNerney's name and his No. 5 will be sold for $10 to raise money for a more permanent memorial to McNerney, likely a scholarship fund in his name. Saxton said all money raised will be donated to McNerney's family, who will have the ultimate decision on how it's used.
Saxton said W&J students also provided the Knoch memorial organizers with about 300 rubber bracelets to sell for $3.
Karen Oosterhous, a spokeswoman for W&J College, said students there have organized several fundraisers and memorials in McNerney's name, including the sale of the rubber bracelets that include McNerney's name, “#RIP5” and a stop the violence message. And a Washington-area Applebee's restaurant is donating a portion of its proceeds to the cause, Oosterhous said.
Students, including McNerney's W&J teammates, have been showing their support by wearing commemorative T-shirts and red-and-black ribbons in the college's colors.
The students' sense of community has been the silver lining in McNerney's death, Oosterhous said.
“That has been one positive thing to come out of this tragedy,” she said.
Mike King, Knoch's head football coach, said his team is considering starting a “Tim McNerney Award” to be given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities that McNerney showed in his life: heart, desire and good sportsmanship.
King said the award would be given out at the end of each football season.
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writer Paul Kogut contributed to this report.