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Football is family: Tallahassee supports Leon assistant football coach

Posted at 12:00 AM, Jun 07, 2023

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — CJ and Shelley Danser have deep ties to the Tallahassee community. Both are Florida High grads, and CJ is now an assistant football coach at Leon High School. On Monday night, the Dansers lost their oldest son David in a tragic accident, and now many have stepped up to show their support.

"Football is more than just wins and losses," said Leon head football coach Tyrone McGriff. "It's more than just what the scoreboard says at the end of the game."

That family was on full display this week after Danser and his wife suffered the unthinkable when David drowned.

"Seeing a friend go through that situation, it's just heartbreaking."

David's organs were donated to save the lives of other children, and it was at that moment that his football family showed up.

"One of our main pillars of our program is family," said Florida High assistant football coach Julius Harley. "You talk about family first. We just felt it was bigger than football and we needed to support him in this situation."

Danser and his wife are both graduates of Florida High. CJ played football for the Seminoles in high school. On Monday night, his Alma mater was set to play Leon in 7 on 7.

"He's part of the family and will always be," said Florida High assistant football coach Matt Wheeler. "It was an easy decision to walk up there and do what we could to support him."

Family is bigger than football. Instead, Florida High joined Leon in walking to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital for David's Honor Walk.

"For them to take the time out of their day to walk with us, for ourselves to take the time to walk there to support him and his family, it was big," said Leon High football player Austin Powell.

A chance to support their coach, their former athlete when he needed it most.

"Seeing my coach like that in a hard time, I couldn't imagine what he's going through," said Leon's Santana Harris. "Seeing David like that, it was pretty hard."

"That's what football is supposed to be," added McGriff. "It's supposed to create lifelong bonds and it's supposed to be a game of life, where you figure out how to get through life with your family."

Two teams, coming together as one.

"It's not just us blowing the whistle getting you to do a job," said Harley. "It's really training you for life beyond football."

"Everybody goes through different things when you lose somebody, but what I do know is, he'll need people behind him," said McGriff.

And he will, because that's what family does. Shelley is currently pregnant with the couple's third child. For ways you can help the family, click here.