Folks who watch Marshall men’s basketball games have a running joke about the fleeting moments Coach Tom Herrion dons his jacket during contests. Normally, it takes just a few minutes for it to end up off his back and on a chair. On Twitter, it’s called #JacketWatch. His jacket even has its own Twitter account, @HerrionsJacket.
Wednesday night, though, it stayed on from opening tip to final buzzer, an occurrence as common as Halley’s Comet crossing the night sky and Fat Patty’s having a bad burger on the menu. There was a reason.
Green and white are the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the site of the tragic shooting deaths of 20 first-grade students and six school staff members on Dec. 14. Herrion was born in Oxford, Mass. He was a player and an assistant coach at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass. and an assistant coach at Providence College in Rhode Island.
Newtown sits just off Interstate 84, a road Herrion said he’s driven hundreds of times.
“Easily, I’d say 200 to 300 times I’ve driven through that area recruiting when I was a young coach up in New England,” he said. “With a 6-year-old son that’s going to be 7 right after Christmas, and in the first grade, not unlike any of you … think about it this way. Those kids, boys and girls, are the same age of the kids that come to my camp.”
So the jacket famous for quickly becoming a chair ornament stayed on.
“It’s my way of paying tribute,” he said. “It’s just a small way to pay homage to the senseless, ridiculous, despicable slaughtering of all the people last Friday.”