ANDERSON — Dakota Morris, a 2020 Anderson High School graduate and former player for the Indians soccer team, is being remembered as a young man who worked hard and always put his team first.
Morris, 19, was killed in an automobile accident Tuesday afternoon.
“The things I’m always going to remember about Dakota, is just the fact that he was one of those kids who got everything out of his ability,” Anderson boys soccer coach Chris Spolyar said. “When we talk about kids who leave everything on the pitch and left our program in a better place, that was Dakota.”
News broke of the accident on the eve of Anderson’s Wednesday first-round sectional game at Hamilton Southeastern. A planned team dinner Tuesday evening turned into an impromptu wake, as players past and present gathered to remember their former teammate.
“After we found out, the impact on the upperclassmen, my seniors this year, plus his class, everybody started texting everybody,” Spolyar said. “We had our team dinner that night before sectional, and all these alumni showed up at the field to have these conversations.”
Anderson senior Erick Rodriguez, who played with Morris from their days at Highland Middle School through the 2019 season, said it was a tough evening of remembrance.
“After practice, (Spolyar) sat us down and gave us a little speech,” Rodriguez said. “It was a very sensitive subject. We were all shocked. There was a lot of silence. It was hard to get the words out.”
Morris was the team’s backup goalkeeper as a senior. Despite a role on the team that came with limited playing time, Spolyar says Morris never had a negative attitude and always supported his teammates on the field.
“He probably didn’t get as much time on the field as he wanted,” he said. “Dakota wanted to play, and all the kids at that level wanted to play. He was one of the first kids on the field, and I had to chase him off the field at the end of the day. He was never a distraction to the team. He gave his everything.”
Spolyar and Rodriguez also remember Morris as a friendly and outgoing kid who never turned away from conversation.
“He was a good kid,” Spolyar said. “Being a parent now, and also having my kids around the program, it’s fun to see which players they talk about and gravitate to. Dakota was one of those kids they hung out with. I don’t know if he ever met a stranger. He would always talk to anyone.”
“We played together all those years. He was a very down to earth person and made sure everyone else was OK before himself,” Rodriguez added. “He’d offer rides to those who needed it. He was an awesome person outside of the soccer field as well. He was always helping kids and showing the right way to do things.”
Rodriguez said Morris was passionate about a great many things, including soccer and baseball. His passion for cars and fixing them up, however, was a common theme in their conversations.
“We had good conversations after practice,” Rodriguez said. “We talked about our goals and future plans, what we wanted to do. He loved to talk about cars a lot.
“He loved cars. He loved to play baseball. He was very devoted. He loved everything.”