COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton High School track and field assistant coach Jay Rollerson died over the weekend from an apparent heart attack, Newton head coach Demetrice Perry-Stokes announced. He was 66.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately made available.
Perry-Stokes took to Facebook on Monday to make the announcement and share a heart-felt message about the loss she and the Newton Ram community suffered.
“My heart is sooo heavy right now, l am really in disbelief at this moment,” she said in the social media post. “I lost a great friend, mentor, and legendary coach who stuck with me from the beginning to the end.”
Rollerson, referred to by many as ‘Coach Rollo,’ was an assistant on Perry-Stokes’ staff for the past seven years after retiring from teaching. He oversaw an extremely successful period of the Rams program, which included back-to-back region championships.
On Tuesday, Perry-Stokes spoke with The Covington News about what Rollerson meant to the track program at NHS.
“Coach Rollo was a mentor to me. He was like a dad and he treated me like his daughter. You could talk to him about anything because he was so laid back," she said. "We worked together really, really well. The girls on the team loved him and he loved the girls. He’d give them the world if he could.”
Newton athletic director Vincent Byams also spoke about Rollerson’s impact.
“It’s obviously a tough one because coach [Rollerson] meant a lot to everybody, not just the track program,” Byams said in a phone interview. “I think he really, truly found his calling coaching girls’ track in his retirement. He’s been like a father figure to a lot of our girls here at Newton.”