EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Tragedy hit North Weinbach last Wednesday when a house exploded and killed three people. One of whom, Charles Hite, was a volunteer coach at Harrison High School in Evansville.
Charles and his brother Steve shared a love of football and every day they carpooled to Harrison where both helped along the sidelines. Steve is the Warriors’ equipment manager and Charles worked in the film booth and was the team’s honorary hype man.
“He was a big part of our Friday night deal,” says Harrison Athletic Director Andre Thomas. “He got here early, he helped pass out equipment. He did part of the filming for us with some other guys. And then he would come in, you know, a couple times during the week. If we needed some extra film work done for practice, he would be here to help us do that as well. He was just a big part of our program.”
“He was kind of the guy that always was positive for us,” says Coach Charles Zimmerman. “He was kind of the guy that always was positive for us. Like if the kids were down or whatever, he was always the one. Hey, we can still win. We got a chance so get your head back up. So that’s the kind of guy he is.”
When the warriors heard about the horrific explosion that killed Charles, the team was rocked.
“It was terrible,” says senior Zaven Sebree. “Our heads was dropped immediately when we got the news.”
Steve was on his way to pick Charles up and was running late that day. He always picked him up at 1:00 sharp, but he called Charles to say he would be about ten minutes late. The explosion occurred at 12:58, leaving Steve with all of the what-ifs.
“Losing his brother like that, and just second guessing himself,” says Zimmerman. “What if he would’ve been there. Could he have got him out before? We just tried to tell him ‘look man, there’s nothing you could’ve done different. We’re all going to miss him. Just get better. If you need to be here be here, if you don’t stay at home, get better.'”
“We just can’t really explain, for whatever reason, his path got slowed down that day, just a little bit, or the Hites would have lost another part of their family,” says Thomas.
The warriors say Charles was their biggest cheerleader and was always there to pump up the players, get them back in the right mindset, and keep them fighting.
“Whenever we were down, we all had our heads down, he coming here yelling, telling us pick our heads up,” says Sebree. “We still got a game to play. But I’m saying no matter how much time was left, it could be one second, three seconds, twelve minutes left, he’s still gonna go out and tell us we gotta win this game.”
The warriors know that although Charles may not be there physically, he’s still on those sidelines pushing them to give their all.
“It’s gonna motivate all of us,” says senior Albert Wadlington. “I know he’s looking down on us. All he wanted was to win so we’re gonna go out and get it for him.”
“Charlie’s spirit is here,” says Zimmerman.
“Charles was not a quitter,” says Thomas. “He was a fighter, he’d been fighting his whole life. And so we’re gonna continue to fight in his name.”
Just like his brother, Steve is out on the field inspiring the team. From giving players a ride home to doing anything he can to make sure each gameday goes off without a hitch. Through the heartbreak of losing a brother, he’s still out giving his time to his football family.
“I guess it’s just in their blood,” says Zimmerman. “I mean, the Hites, both of them are just that kind of person where they’ll do anything for you.”
Steve Hite chose seven Warriors players as Charles’ pallbearers at the funeral. The Warriors will hold a moment of silence in his memory at Harrison’s first home game on September 2 and they will wear a sticker with his initials going forward.