‘He was on your side every time’; players, family remember High Point Central baseball coach who died of COVID-19

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HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — High Point Central High School baseball coach Andy Harper is being remembered after a long battle with COVID-19 and double Pneumonia.  

“We miss our son terribly,” said Gaye Harper. 

His parents Bud and Gaye Harper told FOX8 he left a legacy on the field and in the classroom.   

“The Lord has a reason for everything and evidently the Lord wanted him more than we wanted him,” said Bud Harper.   

His parents said the 48-year-old was a fan of baseball since he was a teenager. 

“He did have a passion for baseball but he also had a passion for people,” said Bud Harper.

He used his love for the sport to mentor young players at various schools and organizations across the Triad including High Point Central and the North Carolina Baseball Academy.  

Coach Harper was the founder of Touch Em’ All, a non-profit organization to help disadvantaged kids get an opportunity on the field. 

“He never cared so much about winning a game, just play your best,” said Bud. “If you play your best, done all you can do, that was good enough for him.”

High Point Central Athletic Director Mike Cook saw his impact firsthand.   

“The relationships, the work ethic, the passion for the game,” he said. “He loved the game of baseball and the fact that he was such a good teacher… He could see something in three minutes that it would take me three weeks to figure out.”  

The Harpers told FOX8 the longtime coach started feeling sick after a baseball tournament out-of-town   

“I don’t know how he made it,” said Bud. “Even driving home he was so sick.”  

After going to urgent care, he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and double Pneumonia.  

Coach Harper was rushed to the emergency room on August 2nd. 

“At first they seemed to be able to help him but his oxygen would not stay maintained,” said his mother.  

“They couldn’t keep his oxygen level high enough,” said Bud. “It would go up and then it would come back down.”  

The Harpers told FOX8 he was not vaccinated, something that may have saved his life.   

“We really don’t know why he didn’t get his vaccine,” said Gaye. “He chose not to.”    

Coach Harper was in the hospital for several weeks on a ventilator before he passed away on August 27th. 

“He gave his all for his ball team and his students and school,” Gaye said. 

The Harpers rest easy knowing he shared his strong faith in God and embraced his passion for the love of the sport.  

“He just turned over his life for the sake of kids,” said Bud. 

Former High Point Central baseball player DeAngleo Giles now plays for North Carolina State University. 

He told FOX8 hearing of Coach Harper’s passing was devastating. 

“He just invested so much into each and every person that played for him,” he said. 

He remembered the coach as someone who weaved life lessons for the players on and off the field.  

“After practices or specifically when I had a terrible game or anything like that he would be the first person I would reach out to and always knowing that he was there for you,” Giles said. “He understood and he was on your side every time.”  

A celebration of life for Coach Harper is scheduled for Friday, September 3rd at 7 p.m. inside the High Point Rockers Stadium, 214 Lindsay Street in High Point. 

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