The Power of Teal: Hancock Hawks honor late Emily Goss


In South Mississippi, it’s not uncommon for entire towns to just shut down on a Friday night for high school football.

Last Friday was no different in Hancock County, only it was different. Different because of who wasn’t there, different because everyone who was there, was there for her, wearing her favorite color on her favorite day of the week.

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‘Teal out Night’ in a celebration of life through football for the late Emily Kathryn Goss.

“Tonight is about love. It’s about love for her and it’s about love for the rest of us.”

“Love you, Em!”

“Love you!”

“Love you!”

“It was the words we heard all the time, and will be the words that stay with us forever. I got you.”

“On the team, she made everyone laugh. Kind of the atmosphere was just different because everyone had a smile on their face. And I mean we still do, but it feels like we’re missing something.”

“Yeah. Like every time we go out for team bonding stuff, it just feels like I’m missing something in my stomach. And then I’m like, did I forget something? But I didn’t. Cause she always made everyone smile and giggle and when a stunt would fall, she would just tell us to get right back up and try again.”

Things haven’t been the same at Hancock since July 12th, the day Emily Goss lost her life in a tragic car accident at just 17-years-old. Now, it’s up to that Hancock family to honor her by going on for the ones who can’t. “It’s hard. But it helps so much to know that so many people loved her. And so many people are here just for her.”

The community showed up in droves, wearing teal for days and emotions on their sleeves, but come to find out ‘doing it for Em,’ is overwhelmingly just one big reason to be happy. “She was always smiling, so we always try to smile. She always had an upbeat, positive attitude, and we all try to have an upbeat, positive attitude just like she did. And when all this happened, we were like senior year – it’s going to be terrible. And that’s not what she wanted. She would have wanted her senior year to be the best year. We’re living the way she would live and make it the best year for her.”

As a captain of the cheer squad, that peppy attitude and school spirit is just part of the territory and apparently so is being the star of the show. (“What do you think she would think about all of this?”)”Oh, she would love all of this attention. Yeah. She would always be like oh, everyone is coming out for me and no one else. Just me! Yeah, she’d love it.”

Another thing Emily loved was football. “We had powder puff games and she would try to play but she would always lose because she didn’t know what she was doing at all.”

Even if Emily didn’t have a big presence on the field, the Hawks felt it in the locker room. Head Coach Neil Lollar says she would spend up to three hours helping on game day, hanging jerseys for the players and making sure they had drinks after the game. “I think it’s kind of our way of celebrating her. Not just mourning, I think Emily would want it that way. She was someone that always wanted to shine bright. That was kind of one of her big things. And she always said I got you. And this was a way that we can do this.”

“Friday Night Lights were always such a fun time, and they still will be. Her accident occurred on a Friday. The balloon release occurred on a Friday. So now we’re here really pushing ourselves for a tough football game, and everyone is giving it their all. And just remembering she would love to be here. And we just love and miss her so much.”

In a game that was more about life than it was football, the Hawks gave Emily the ultimate tribute in the form of a 28-14 come-from-behind victory over Gautier, the perfect end to a perfect night, but never the end of ‘LLE,’ ‘Long live Emily.’

“She’s still here with us. And it just shows that she is here. And like. Everyday, there’s something that flies across my face that shows that she’s there.”

“You better not be. Because I got you!”

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A native of Pass Christian and a St. Stanislaus alum, Jeff Haeger comes to News 25 from right in our backyard. He most recently spent more than three years working as the sports reporter for WHLT-TV in Hattiesburg, where he provided extensive coverage of his alma mater, The University of Southern Mississippi. At Southern Miss, Jeff was a member of the Honors College and graduated with a B.A. degree in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. He also wrote for USM's award-winning school newspaper, The Student Printz, where he won first place for Best Sports Story in 2013. Jeff loves to travel, and is excited to get back on the water to reunite with his family. In his spare time you can find Jeff spending time with his friends, and maybe even winning a fantasy football league. For sports stories contact Jeff at