Austin bombing victims honored in Odessa

ODESSA, TX (KWES) - The 5th and 6th grade Odessa Jackrabbits are a tough team on the field, but a group of caring kids off it.

This was exemplified by their reaction to finding out their assistant coach Norrell Waynewood and his family were effected in the Austin bombing in March.

Norrell's childhood friend, Stephan House, was the first fatal victim in the series of bombings that rocked the capital city back in March.

"When we heard about it, we felt bad, so we invited her and voted her to be a team captain," says Ayden Lopez, who plays for the team.

Norrell says Stephan was a brother to him, a closeness assisted by the fact that Waynewood was taken in by House's mother, Melonie, from a troubled youth home after the two became friends.

So when the kids wanted to do something for his family, Melonie was invited into town from Austin.

At the game, Melonie and her daughter were presented with official Jackrabbit jerseys and represented as official team captains.

"She felt totally warm, she was grateful, she got a little misty eyed," says Norrell.

As kids, Norrell and Stephan played on the same football team.

"It really brought back some old memories, pleasant ones," says Melonie.

She says she also made some new memories, "I was just amazed, and very happy, my heart is happy today."

Melonie returned back to Austin after the weekend, but Norrell says she's still part of the team.

"They call her Momma Jackrabbit," says Norrell.

As for Norrell he'll continue to teach the fundamentals of football to a group of kids that he says have inspired him.

"It helps me a lot, kids bring you back into the focus of what life is really about."

Stephan House left behind an 8-year-old daughter.

A go-fund me account has raised more than $80,000 for her, if you'd like to contribute or read more click here.

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