El Diamante High junior Jayce Tippit, a member of the school’s varsity football team, died Tuesday.
Visalia police received a call at 7:14 p.m. Tuesday and responded to a home in the 2000 block of North Kent Street in Visalia where officers found a 17-year-old boy dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The case is being investigated as a suicide and no foul play is suspected, police said.
El Diamante football coach Mark Rogers said the sport was a passion for Tippit, who was a 5-foot-8, 165-pound first-year varsity player scheduled to be a reserve defensive lineman.
“Whenever he did something, he did it all-in, and football was his No. 1 thing,” Rogers said.
He was a kid who lived and breathed football.
El Diamante coach Mark Rogers on Jayce Tippit
El Diamante Principal Angela Sanchez said the mood at the high school was “very somber and sad.”
The high school and school district are providing psychological services as needed, she said.
“Our focus is on the kids and staff,” Sanchez said.
Green is the main school color at El Diamante and several students wore green shirts to honor their classmate.
The football team gathered for photos, holding his No. 42 jersey. An outpouring on social media used the hashtag #jt42.
Reaction and condolences over Tippit’s death spread quickly across social media Tuesday night and throughout Wednesday.
A Twitter page adorned with two photos of Tippit, including one in his green Miners jersey, belonging to his mother, Marybeth, included a tweet that thanked “Miner Nation for your outpouring of love and comfort.”
Rogers said Tippit was always thinking about ways to help the football program.
During a recent fundraiser where Miner players sold discount cards to local businesses, Tippit moved 40 more than anyone else on the team. Rogers also said Tippit was saving boxtops as a way to raise money for the program.
“Anything I asked him to do, he did it,” Rogers said.
El Diamante opens its season Thursday night in Tulare. Rogers said the Miners plan to wear black arm bands in tribute to Tippit.
He added that No. 42 stickers will be added to the helmets of all the players in the program, and a moment of silence will be observed before the Miners’ first home game Sept. 4 against Sunnyside.