Derek Jarvis was far more than just a coach. He was a mentor, a role model and an institution in the Hattiesburg community. More importantly, he was a husband and a father who valued family over everything.
Now everyone fortunate enough to know him is left to pick up the pieces. Jarvis, known affectionately as “Coach Red”, passed away early Thursday morning. The Natchez native was 34 years old.
His impact and footprint throughout the Hattiesburg community lives on though.
“He’s the only coach I know that has been at Sacred Heart, North Forrest, Oak Grove and Hattiesburg High,” said Darryl McCoy, a close friend. “He was the person that brung the whole Hattiesburg community together, because he coached kids from the whole Hattiesburg area.”
McCoy was the head boys basketball coach at North Forrest from 2012 to 2016, and for a while in that span, Jarvis was an assistant on his staff. So McCoy had a front row view of Jarvis and everything he brought to the table. It was his connection with the kids that stood out most.
“There’s something about him. It’s just his personality and relationship with kids was different from other coaches,” said McCoy. “I have a good relationship with kids, but it was nothing compared to what he had. He had some sort of instinct in him that makes kids work hard and want to be successful in life.”
Following his stint at North Forrest, Jarvis went on to coach basketball and football at Oak Grove. His coaching style didn’t change, according to Oak Grove basketball coach LaRon Brumfield.
“He just had a way of being positive with the kids,” said Brumfield. “That’s something you can’t teach. That’s something that’s within and something that he had.
“You can’t put into words when people do things from the heart.”
Everybody has a niche in life. For Jarvis, it was his unconditional love for every young man or woman he came across. Deep down, he saw a little bit of himself in that aspiring athlete, hardworking student or someone that just needed a few words of encouragement every now and then.
Jarvis touched even more lives when he moved on to Hattiesburg High School in 2017. Dexter Jordan, a star baseball and football player for the Tigers, is a prime example.
“He came from the same place that most kids come from that didn’t have the opportunity,” said Jordan. “That’s all he wanted to do. Give kids the opportunity and let them know that anything is possible in life.”
Not fully aware of his passing, Jordan text messaged Jarvis early Thursday morning and waited anxiously for a response letting him know that everything was ok. It never came, and that’s what brought the most hurt, said Jordan.
“He was more than a coach to me. He was like a father figure, big brother or whatever you want to call it,” added Jordan. “He taught me the right way and the do’s and dont’s of life. He taught me outside of football and outside of baseball.
“God has plans. He makes no mistakes. It’s hard on the community right now, but all Coach Red would want us to do is live his legacy. We have to stay positive and really, really stay behind his family and kids. He’s got two little boys coming up that look up to a lot of us.”