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By Renee Sloan
Nelson Berry, a volunteer football coach for South Brunswick High School, died Saturday.
According to South Brunswick Athletics Director Chris Roehner, Berry, affectionately known as “Pops,” was a non-faculty, volunteer coach who was approved by the board of education. He had been with the school for three years.
According to Roehner, Berry was a dedicated coach who really cared about the kids and came to practice every day ready to work. He said Berry was unable to be with the team full-time last season due to health reasons, but had been there for the players as much as he could. He often brought trays of cookies and brownies to the pre-game meal.
Roehner said Berry was so dedicated to the team that he tried to help them out even when he was in bed on a ventilator. He recalled a particular instance in which a community had promised to assist the football team by providing equipment for its weight room.
“He was lying in bed with a ventilator down his throat, and he was still trying to find out from his wife if the community had gotten us the equipment or made monetary compensation for it,” he said. “Even when he wasn’t feeling good, he was making sure that South Brunswick High School and our weight room was taken care of.”
Roehner said the students at South have taken Berry’s death hard, and it came at a time when students were already dealing with the deaths of a student and a recent graduate.
“It’s been a real tough day at our school,” he said. “We had the crisis team out there, and I feel really bad for the kids.”
Roehner said Berry will be difficult to replace.
“We can always find coaches, but we’ll never find another person like Pops,” Roehner said.