Former Baseball Coach Honored at Veterans Day Ceremony

Parents Reflect on Son’s Character, Impact


Photo courtesy of the Seviers

After former baseball coach Jay Sevier passed away in the Army in 2009, his parents, Brenda and Rob Sevier, were told that he would be posthumously honored the Green Beret tab. He had just two months left of his training when he passed. “It was a big honor, we were very humbled by it and very pleased,” Brenda said. “We are very proud of Jay. He always put God first in his life, and that is what got him through.”

He is the man in the picture frame sitting in Linda Paris’ office. His name is what athletes now use to refer to their baseball diamond. He is a veteran honored every Veterans Day by community members.

Jay Sevier, a former baseball coach for Cedar Park, lost his life after leaving the team to join the U.S. Army in 2007. Every year during the Veterans Day ceremony, his parents, Brenda and Ron Sevier, come out to stand in honor and memory of their beloved son.

Leading up to his job as a coach, Sevier played on the football and baseball teams at McNeil High School and then earned a Bachelor’s degree from Concordia University to become a teacher. While coaching was what Sevier sought out to do, after years at the job, his mother said that he felt a calling to do something more. For him, this meant joining the Army.

“I stayed very calm when Jay told me, and I called Ron and said he needed to come home,” Brenda said. “I was very scared at first, of course, and we were in shock because when he told us, I just never thought those words would come out of his mouth.”

His mother sat on their deck as he gently gave her the news, keeping in mind his four-year-old brother that had passed away years before. Sevier told his mother that if going into the Army would cause them to worry too much about losing another child, he would not go.

“He told me at one point, ‘If you don’t want me to go, then you just tell me,’” Brenda said. “Well, I couldn’t do that. I didn’t want him to go, but I could not say ‘No, don’t go,’ as much as I wanted to.”

Before making his final decision, she said that Sevier continued to do research and talk to people just to be sure it was right for him. In 2007, six years after the war in Afghanistan began, Sevier turned in his letter of resignation to the school.

“He handed me a letter and I opened it and said ‘This is your letter of resignation, what are you going to do,’” the Principal’s Administrative Assistant, Linda Paris said. “He said, ‘I’m going to join the Army and be a Green Beret,’ and I threw it back at him. I said, ‘Are you not paying attention? We are at war, what did your mother say?’”

Sevier told his peers that he felt God had called upon him to join the military. Listening to his faith, Sevier left for the military, only after saying goodbye to the baseball team full of athletes he had grown close to. His mother said that this was what made going into the military the most difficult for Sevier. 

At his funeral, we really realized the impact that he had to so many students and teachers here and everywhere else.

— Brenda Sevier

“He said that the hardest thing for him was to say goodbye to the kids that he coached,” Brenda said. “When he went into the military, he still stayed in touch with a lot of the parents and students. They would still reach out to him for advice and help and it was really interesting, but he always kept that bond.”

Once Sevier joined the Army, he began working towards joining the Special Forces and becoming a Green Beret in Fort Bragg, NC. This title demanded six phases of training, four of which he completed before passing away on Sept. 19, 2009, from a cardiac arrhythmia while running on a treadmill in his last physical training test.

“I talked to him that morning before he passed away at about noon,” Brenda said. “He said, ‘We are going to lunch and then we are going to work out.’ He always checked in, no matter where he was. That was the last time I talked to him.”

Throughout his training, he was put through scenarios that would prepare him for the worst. Brenda said that the most she had feared for Sevier was when he had to parachute out of a plane for the first time, despite having a phobia of heights.    

“I never dreamed that he would die the way he did,” Brenda said. “I was fearing more of what was going to happen when he graduated.”

Due to the large number of people in the Army, his parents said they knew it was not typical for their commanders to notice individuals like Sevier. However, after looking through his files and seeing how he excelled in his training, his commander showed up at the Seviers’ door after he died and told them that for his passion and hard work, they were awarding him with his Green Beret tab. The commander also said that because it was unheard of for a soldier to receive the tab posthumously without having finished training, they would consequently recognize three Vietnam War veterans as Green Berets as well.

“It was a big honor, we were very humbled by it and very pleased,” Brenda said. “We are very proud of Jay. He always put God first in his life, and that is what got him through.”

While she and Ron knew that he was close to many throughout his life, Brenda said the love that everyone had for their son was clear at his funeral.

“At his funeral, we really realized the impact that he had to so many students and teachers here and everywhere else,” Brenda said.

On Nov. 12 in the gym during DEN, the school hosted their annual Veterans Day ceremony, where the choir presented the National Anthem and band members performed “Taps,” a ceremonial military song. Brenda said that this song has been close to her heart since her son’s funeral.

“It brought back for me the day we buried Jay,” Brenda said. “That was just very hard. Those drums just give me chills because he seems so close to us even though it has been nine years.”

His father, Ron, also reflected on Sevier’s burial when he came to the ceremony. He said that there was one memory that he will never forget about that day.

“It was very hot that day, and then there was just a gust of cold breeze that came through,” Ron said. “[The priest] stopped, he was in awe too. It was like the angels flew by.” 

It is such an honor for the school to do this for him. For us, it helps. It brings back some sad emotions but it’s good, we feel good.

— Brenda Sevier

Apart from honoring his own son, Ron said that he finds it important to acknowledge everyone who has fought for their country. He said that this is why he enjoys attending ceremonies like the one yesterday.

“It recognizes not only our son but all of the people who have served in the military,” Ron said. “I think that is so very important.”

Almost a decade since the passing of their son, Brenda said that she is thankful that the school organizes ceremonies to honor her son. Wiping away tears, she said that feeling the emotions she did at the ceremony is helpful to their healing.

“It is such an honor for the school to do this for him,” Brenda said. “For us, it helps. It brings back some sad emotions but it’s good, we feel good.”

The baseball diamond has been named after Sevier, and additionally, his parents have honored him by creating scholarships at both Cedar Park and Concordia University. Brenda said that apart from the long-lasting impact Sevier will have on his community, he will always be her greatest inspiration.

“He has inspired me to be stronger,” Brenda said. “You look back and you see how strong he was and how much courage he had and when things get tough in our lives, you think about Jay and how strong he was and it has helped me to be a better person.”

Click here to read The Wolfpack’s story on Jay Sevier from 2016.