Remembering the Ferrum Eight - WSET.com - ABC13

Remembering the Ferrum Eight

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Reporter: David Tate

Ferrum, VA - It's a tribute to the real people depicted in the movie "We are Marshall."  Ferrum College has a new athletic center that doubles as a tribute to the players from their school that were killed in that 1970 plane crash.

75 people were killed when the chartered plane carrying the Marshall football team, coaches, and some fans crashed in Huntington, West Virginia.

That included seven members of Ferrum's junior college national championship team of 1968... who had all transferred to Marshall.

 The lessons learned more than 40-years ago... which also claimed a former Ferrum assistant coach, will not be far from mind when the players report to practice August 11th.

On this field they won a championship... seven men who started their careers at Ferrum and died together in a crash that shook the country.

Horace Green knew them all.

"Just a bunch of guys that Coach Norton wanted. Guys that nobody wanted," said Green.

He was the running back for that team of misfits that turned into champions.

"It was quite a shock. It took several years to grasp what had really happened. To lose so many people that you know that quick," said Green.

Also dying in the crash was new head coach, Rick Tolley.  A Virginia Tech graduate, Tolley was the long time right hand man to fabled Ferrum head coach, Hank Norton.

The college's new athletic center is named for Norton.   It's what is inside this building that makes it special.

"Anytime you can tell young people, 'The opportunity is there but it isn't going to be there forever and take full advantage of it.', that's what the story helps us with," said Ferrum head football coach, David Harper.

It's hard not to find the reminders.... from the coaches' office to the weight room to the locker room to the walls.

Evidence that the story of these men and their time here will not be forgotten and the lessons learned will not be taught in sadness.

An event that will tie two schools together forever.

"That was something the parents wanted done is... don't forget them. Don't let the school forget them; don't let the players forget who they were," said Green.

Every year alumni of the Ferrum championship teams make their way to see Coach Norton, at his home on the Chesapeake Bay, who retired in 19-93 after 34 years at the helm of the Ferrum Panthers.

And at those parties, I'm told, much of the remembering is for the group now known as the "Ferrum Eight".

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