/Remembering Barrett Dempsey 
Vigil goes gathered in Central Bank Arena. Photo by Sarah Turner, Sports editor.

Remembering Barrett Dempsey 

By Sarah Turner, Sports editor 

Bright candlelight filled Central State Bank Arena as Falcon athletes gathered on Feb. 13 to honor the memory of Barrett Dempsey, who was a member of the University’s wrestling team. 

Dempsey, a freshman from Byhalia, Miss. passed away in a car accident on Feb. 11. Athletic Director Mark Richard broke the news to the team the following day. 

Maddie Taylor, a senior on UM’s softball team, presented the idea to the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and asked SAAC representatives from different sports across campus to inform their teammates of the event.  

At the vigil, the wrestling team filed in together after all attendees were seated, making their way to a designated section in the center of the stands. Dempsey’s photo was displayed in black and white on the arena video board, overlooking the Falcon athletic community. 

Taylor welcomed everyone to the vigil and described the impact that Dempsey had on the team, and invited anyone willing to speak up to the microphone.   

Vigil attendees each received a candle to hold in honor of Dempsey. The candles lit up the room with a warm glow while several teammates and coaches spoke about what Dempsey meant to them. Richard was the first person to speak on Dempsey. 

“Just looking at the group of student athletes we have here today, we are a family right now,” said Richard, “our wrestling team is hurting, and you guys coming out tonight to support them is great.” 

The Falcons wrestling team, in their inaugural season on the bricks, boasts a 3-2 Conference Carolinas record and one All-Conference selection in graduate student Gabe Hixenbaugh. 

Central State Bank Arena was meant to be the host of the wrestling team’s second and final home meet of the year the night of the memorial, but plans had to change following the news about Dempsey. 

“We were supposed to be here tonight watching a wrestling match, with a packed gym and a lot of excitement, but you know what, we’re here celebrating Barrett’s life,” said Richard. 

Jensen Bergeron, Dempsey’s roommate, explained that the two butted heads frequently in their first few months of living together.  

“He was very organized, he was very straight-laced, he had everything together,” said Bergeron. But once they returned from the December break, Bergeron said they started spending more time together. 

“We started talking about faith, which is something that’s really important to both of us, and we started finding small things we had in common,” explained Bergeron to the crowd, but the moment didn’t last long enough.  

“I just think that if there’s someone that you’re waiting to connect with and feel like you don’t know well in your life, please reach out to them and connect with them,” said Bergeron, “You never know how much time you have.” 

Wrestling’s head coach, Daniel Ownbey, followed, saying that Dempsey “embodied what we want a student wrestler to be here at Montevallo.” 

Ownbey further described what Dempsey meant to him and the team, saying, “he was definitely one of my favorite athletes that I’ve ever coached, and it was an honor to get to know him, and it was an honor for you guys to be here and celebrate in his life with us.” 

As Ownbey finished speaking, he asked the crowd to break it down with him in the same way Dempsey did, a unanimous “Falcons on 3.” 

All at once, everyone began extinguishing their candles, and the arena returned to darkness.  

Those in attendance were left with the message that your time is short, and telling those close to you that you love them is even more important than you realize.

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