Abingdon High School honors coach who died from COVID-19 with pre-game ceremony

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ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) – Several tributes took place for an Abingdon High School football coach who died Monday after contracting COVID-19 at Friday night’s game.

The Abingdon High School Falcons honored Robb Ratcliff, their offensive and defensive line coach by having one lineman who shows toughness, hard work and dedication each gameday wear Ratcliff’s #76 jersey. The first player to wear Ratcliff’s jersey was defensive lineman Charlie Sturgill.

“We got to present Charlie Sturgill with the 76 jersey for the first week and we felt like Charlie exemplified everything that Robb did,” said Chelsey Norris, Ratcliff’s niece.

Several family members attended the game in a tent at the end of one of the endzones. They were consulted by the team about playing Friday’s game, but told the team playing on is what Robb would’ve wanted.

In addition to coaching, Ratcliff also taught at Abingdon in the alternative and virtual learning programs.

Ratcliff’s motorcycle and varsity jacket were on display as students and the family gathered and grieved.

“He meant a lot to us and we were all very close family,” Norris said. “It just makes us feel really good to see the community come together and honor him and carry on his legacy.”

The school marked a moment of silence before the game. Ratcliff’s #76 was painted on the field and players wore “R” decals on the back of their helmets.

The Falcons played hard, but ultimately lost 32-27 to Christiansburg.

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