Two months following the tragic passing of former Cottage Grove High School (CGHS) teacher and Bohemia Elementary School Principal Heather Bridgens, her impact continues in the community.
Through an endowment in her name, Bridgens will leave an indelible mark on the future of Cottage Grove sports.
Heather Bridgens graduated Cottage Grove High School in 1992 and was part of the swimming and water polo team. She also went onto coach those same teams later in life. Following her passing on April 8, the Heather Cunningham Bridgens Endowment was created. The goal is exceptional — to make playing sports at CGHS free for students.
On June 8, CGHS student council members Peyton Kidd and Dazjah Tinsley organized a volleyball tournament that featured four different teams, each team consisting of eight Cottage Grove High School students. Their goal was to boost the fund.
“When they told me that this is what they wanted to do it for, I was blown away. It just comes back to some of the things that we always talked about — why we live in Cottage Grove,” said Heather’s husband Garrett Bridgens, who also serves as the CGHS athletic director.
“We live in this amazing community that supports one another, and this endowment we set up in Heather’s name is meant to support kids. We want to make sports free for all kids in Cottage Grove. That’s what this was all about tonight,” Bridgens said.
The cost was $3 per person and attendees also had a shot to win basket auctions. In total the event raised roughly $800. Students had two weeks to practice and create uniforms. Players dressed up as fictional characters such as Spiderman, Hulk, Captain Hook and those from Monsters, Inc. while participating in the game.
“Mr. Bridgens is going through a tough time. I found out we could help out, so I wanted to be a part of it and also have some fun,” senior Cole Johns said.
The winning team of the tournament went on to face the teachers. The “Heros” team, which consisted of Forest Dewitt, Elias Garza, Gage Lydick, Walker McCauley, Austine Moore, Trevor Reeder, Alex Rodman, Ian Shepard, and Andy Wiley, came out on top in the tournament between the four student-led teams.
The Heros played in three straight games by the time the evening was over. In their final matchup against the teachers, the teachers took a big lead early and were able to pull out the win. One of the participants on the teacher’s team was Garrett Bridgens.
“Our community came together. That’s what makes Cottage Grove a special place. I was honored they did that for Heather’s name. I also think it was a special night for our community,” said Bridgens.
To contribute to the Heather Cunningham Bridgens Endowment through Cottage Grove Community Foundation, go to www.cgcfoundation.org/index.php/giving/donate-to-cgcf.
On the donation page make sure to type Heather Cunningham Bridgens fund in the “Write a note” area.