By JOSH FRYE
News Staff Writer
Escambia County High School staff confirmed last Thursday (April 29) that ECHS varsity basketball head coach, physical education teacher and offensive football coordinator John Shears, 44, passed away at his home in West Mobile.
“This is devastating news,” ECHS athletic director and head football coach Scott Mason said. “John was loved by everyone. He was a great coach, friend and co-worker. Most of all, he loved and cared about each kid. The care of the students and coaching were his passion.”
Mason, a longtime friend of the late coach, explained that Shears made more than an hour drive to ECHS every day from his home in West Mobile, where he was found earlier this morning. Mason, who first worked with Shears while coaching at Vigor High School, hired him at ECHS in 2019.
“We were more than friends,” Mason said. “Coaching together is different than ‘working’ together. As coaches you go through battles together and you spend a lot of time around each other. John put the kids number one. He loved each of them and they loved him.”
According to ECHS principal Amy Cabaniss, Shears was a vital part of the Blue Devils family.
“John was a great person,” Cabaniss said. “He will be greatly missed. He was a Blue Devil.”
Last Thursday morning, the school informed students of Coach Shears’ death and counselors have been on hand to help provide support to those students who need it.
According to Mason, the ECHS football players made the decision to dedicate the rest of the spring to the memory of Coach John Shears.
The cause of death has not been released.
A candlelight vigil will be held Thursday, May 6, 7 p.m., at ECHS.