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London volleyball community honors former coach, son in holiday parade

The London Elite Volleyball Club community wore purple shirt with wings and the initials J.E. in Jessica’s honor, with a bible verse of courage.

LONDON, Ohio — One volleyball club in London put together a special float for Mount Sterling's annual Holiday Illuminate Parade Saturday night to honor 34-year-old volleyball coach Jessica Ernst and her baby, who died last week in a car accident.

The London Elite Volleyball Club community wore purple shirts with wings and the initials J.E. in Ernst’s honor, with a bible verse of courage.

Ryland Helton said at the start of the season her team was average, but Ernst made them great.

“Jessica was always there for us and it's just a reminder that everywhere we go she'll be there with us and we can remember that,” said fellow 8th-grade player, Jillian Butch. 

Both girls said thanks to Ernst, they want to play Division I in college, and will do whatever it takes to honor their coach's name.

Assistant coach Amy Stout said Ernst’s funeral on Saturday was important for the community to continue celebrating her legacy in her favorite Christmas tradition - the parade.

"She wanted it to be a team bonding event, so she wanted her team and lots of other teams to come, they exchange gifts, they ride in the parade, they get to know each other, it's like the first big event for the whole season,” said Stout.

Stout said the players are preparing to hit the courts this season in her honor.

“I think this season will be different, I think they will step up because that's what she taught them to do and I think that's why they wanted to be here tonight,” said Stout.

“I've been a part of the program for seven years and this year will be dedicated to her and she will be truly missed.,” shared Kenzie Vallery, who is the team captain.

Last year, Ernst’s 14 American Team placed seventh overall in the Ohio Valley Region.

For anyone who would like to support the family, a memorial fund has been set up in her honor at the London PNC Bank called "The Jessica Ernst Memorial Fund."

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