The RVA Sports Network lost a dear friend, and Deep Run High School lost one of its greatest supporters ever when Art Washburn passed away suddenly last February, a day after doing what he did best, watching his son compete in the Conference 11 Boys Basketball Tournament.
In his final message to me on Twitter after the Wildcats won their first round game Saturday, he was already trying to figure out how to handle an out of town trip the following week and still be able to get to the tournament semifinals that Wednesday.
In the immediate aftermath, the Deep Run family began to rally, making plans to honor Art and his contributions to the school, and in no time, other schools, usual rivals, came to their assistance, wanting to salute a man who could handle concessions, announce at soccer games, and, most importantly, be in those stands to support his sons.
#WeLoveArt became the social media rallying cry, and the following Wednesday at the Conference 11 Semifinals, a sea of white appeared, hundreds in t-shirts all in salute to Art, and in solidarity of support to his family.
Most of all, the sea of support swelled when Zack Washburn appeared on the court to play in the semifinals with his Wildcat teammates. It was, perhaps, Zack's finest hour, as people marveled at his ability to play, and play very, very well, under such circumstances.
But, in retrospect, it was no surprise, because Zack's parents prepared him for life and its challenges. And there's no doubt that the proudest person that evening was watching from a special seat in a special place.
Thank you Zack, for your courage on that night, and thank you to the Washburn family for sharing Art with us. He will never, ever be forgotten.
--Rob Witham, RVA Sports Network