Tavarius Hall was not the best known student at Scotland High School.
When he died during a training session on Monday, he had only just returned to the county school system.
But those who did know the 17 year old, described him as “a good kid” with a lot of personality and a ready smile.
A wrestler for the Fighting Scots, Hall was taking part in an after-school workout when he began to have trouble breathing, school officials said. He collapsed shortly afterward.
When emergency personnel arrived at the high school, Hall was in full arrest and CPR was being performed on him. The incident occurred at about 5 p.m. and Scotland County EMS arrived about seven minutes after the initial call, according to Mike Edge, assistant director with the Scotland County Emergency Services.
Hall was taken to Scotland Memorial Hospital where he died.
The high school junior had an up-to-date physical and was cleared to participate in the wrestling program’s off-season conditioning session, according to schools spokesman Andy Cagle. A trainer was also on-hand during the session, Cagle said.
“We ensure the safety of all of our student athletes, and all proper procedures were in place,” Cagle said. “This is a terrible tragedy, and any time you lose a student it’s bad for both the school and the community.”
Scotland senior Aatianna Williams remembers Hall fondly, having sparked a friendship with him during their days attending Spring Hill Middle School. That friendship would continue when Hall returned to Laurinburg from St.Pauls.
“I remember being around all of my friends when we were younger, and he was always dancing, singing and making everyone laugh,” Williams said. “I’ve seen him every day since he came back to Scotland, and he would always stop me in the halls to ask how I was doing. With him gone, it just shows me that you should let everyone that’s important in your life know how much you appreciate them, because you never know when God will take them away.”
The mood was somber at Scotland High School the day after Hall’s death. All off-season workouts planned this week for wrestlers have been cancelled.
According to Cagle, six additional counselors were on campus Tuesday to help students deal with the tragedy.
Wrestling teammate Stephon Graham said Hall always gave his all and encouraged others to do the same.
“If I finished last in a running drill, Tavarius would tell me that I could do better if I put the effort in, and that always helped me feel better,” Graham said. “He was the guy who gave more than 100 percent effort from what I saw, and even encouraged the older kids to step up their effort too. I couldn’t believe it when I heard he had died.”
Scotland middleweight wrestler Clifton Taylor had spoken to Hall during lunch Monday afternoon before the team’s fateful practice hours later.
“We had a conversation in the lunch room about practice and getting ready for the upcoming season that same day,” Taylor said. “It was one of only a couple times we spoke, but Tavarius seemed like an outgoing and truly good person.”
Hall was the second Scotland High School student to have died in the past two weeks. On Sept. 13, a car driven by Devin Gardner, also 17, ran off of Highland Road in Laurel Hill and crashed into a tree, killing the Scotland High School senior. Gardner was a member of the SHS concert band and also played hand bells at First Baptist Church, where he was a member.
Scotland High School, sophomore wrestler Jacob Morgan said the recent tragedies have changed his thinking.
“It makes me have an entirely different outlook on life,” Morgan said. “One minute you see a guy like Tavarius walking the halls, who was a good kid and never got in trouble, and the next minute he’s gone.”