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Late Belton High School Coach's family, athletes and friends hold candlelight vigil

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Posted at 8:15 AM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 11:53:09-04

BELTON, TX — Everyone who knew Belton High School Coach Denise Petter will tell you she was one of a kind.

“When you need somebody to talk to you, she’s been there. She was just somebody that just lit up the room,” said former BHS student-athlete Deanna Watkins.

“When I first met her she was so beautiful inside and out. Beautiful is really an understatement,” said a friend of Coach Petter, Sharon Peeples.

Petter passed away at the age of 62 on Tuesday, after a battle with brain cancer.

“Through it all, she still smiled. She was a mom, she was a friend and she was a mentor. She was a lot of things to many people,” said former coworker and friend of Coach Petter, Natisha King.

Her family, friends and former athletes held a candlelight vigil Thursday night to celebrate her life and legacy.

“You may not even have a handful of people like that in your lifetime. She’s someone who inspired a lot of people,” said Watkins.

Petter worked in Belton ISD for 35 years, beginning in 1982 at Belton Junior High. She taught biology and coached multiple sports including cross country and track & field.

No matter what she was doing, she always pushed everyone to do their best.

“You’re going to do things the right way. She just loves kids and cared so much about kids,” said Belton ISD Athletics Director Samuel Skidmore.

“In the pictures, it shows it’s not a moment that goes on that we were not happy with her. We wanted to come to track because we knew we wanted to be with Petter,” said Watkins.

During the vigil, Petter's family and athletes announced a scholarship fund for student-athletes is being created in her honor, so no one will ever forget Coach Petter.

“I know she loves us. I know she’s happy that we’re all here for her. We just want her to know she will never be forgotten we’re going to always remember Denise,” said Watkins.