Aucilla Christian Academy announces the passing of student-athlete, dies of natural causes

Aucilla Christian Academy announced that senior Dakota Hagan had passed away. Hagan was an athlete on the football, basketball and baseball teams
Aucilla Christian Academy announced that senior Dakota Hagan had passed away. Hagan was an athlete on the football, basketball and baseball teams

Aucilla Christian Academy announced on Facebook Sunday that senior Dakota Hagan, a two-sport athlete, has passed away.

Hagan played football and baseball for the Warriors.

According to a press release issued by the school Monday, Hagan died of natural causes this past weekend.

He was 18.

"It is with deepest sorrow that we inform you of the death of our beloved senior, Dakota Hagan," Aucilla Christian Academy posted on its Facebook.

"Please pray for his family, our students and staff, and each other as we all grieve the loss of one we love so much. We are confident that Dakota had a saving relationship with Jesus Christ; he had a heart of thanksgiving, peace, and joy because he knew Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. His testimony brings us great comfort in this devastating time."

Driven by faith

Hagan wasn't just a role model on the football and baseball fields, but in the community, too. Aucilla Christian Athletic Director Willy Gamalero said Hagan spread love to those around him and was an inspiration to classmates.

"He was one of those kids that everyone loved because he loved everybody," Gamalero said Monday. "I think the legacy he's going to leave going through this tough day to day is just love. He loved so big."

Alongside being a caring individual, many at Aucilla remember Hagan for his strong faith and how it helped him navigate life. Hagan was raised by his aunt and uncle, and struggled early on in school. However, Hagan spoke of how Jesus Christ helped him find a path and often shared his story.

Hagain's Fields of Faith testimony, which was given in late 2021 and has been viewed more than 14,000 times on Aucilla Christian's Facebook page, is one that many remember fondly and keep close.

"He put so much thought and effort into that through countless papers and just writing it," Aucilla Christian head football coach and vice principal Colby Roberts said. "The summary of his concerns was I don't want it to be about me, I want it to be about how Christ affected me.

"It's just a comforting message through it all, especially now."

Hagan carried that message with him. Even when he was not doing something directly involved with religion, he could always be seen wearing a "WWJD" bracelet. He was involved in Aucilla's youth group program and had a resounding impact on the church. In a Mass for Hagan Saturday night, community members said that it was standing room only in the chapel.

"One of the things you see in that video is his love for Jesus and he wanted people to know that he loved Jesus and they should too," Gamalero said.

Commitment to the team

Hagan had two different, but strong impacts in athletics.

Hagan played varsity football for the first time in 2021, and he wanted to contribute where needed. Due to injuries by season's end, Hagan fulfilled that goal. He moved from starting fullback to the offensive line.

With a large younger group within the Aucilla football program, Roberts said Hagan's commitment to the team inspired underclassmen.

Gamalero, also an assistant coach on the football team, said Hagan never wanted to come off the field and was a hard worker. Even when playing an unfamiliar position, he enjoyed contributing and helping teammates.

"He wanted to get better," Gamalero said. "He was a pretty gifted athlete. He was strong, threw the ball hard, and was a tough kid. He's going to be missed this year because we were already down and it's a big blow to our baseball team for sure."

Hagan was more accomplished in baseball.

According to Warriors head baseball coach Daryl Adams, Hagan was starting to come into form. He was hitting the ball harder and was preparing to step into a role as one of the team's main pitchers. Hagan was also one of the co-captains alongside senior Tripp Joyner.

"He's was always encouraging and always enjoying the laughter and comradery during stretching time," Adams said. "The kids looked up to him. He always would play around with them and hug them when they needed it. He was positive when they weren't doing so well."

"For me, he was just one of those kids you look forward to seeing. He always had a smile and was always respectful. He'd play any position you'd want him to. He'd get frustrated with himself when he made mistakes and that's what you want to see as a coach because it bothered him enough to work harder."

Remembering Dakota

Classmates, coaches, and loved ones honored Hagan and offered their condolences across social media platforms Sunday.

"Took these pictures Wednesday after practice for his Senior banner for baseball. Asked him which one he wanted….little did I know that it would be the last picture he would take," Aucilla Christian athletic director and assistant baseball coach Willy Gamalero said in a Facebook post.

" We had a conversation yesterday about life…He just got a new truck..He was applying for a job in my office yesterday…..He told me he loved me yesterday and I told him the same….Now he is resting in the arms of Jesus! Koda….your testimony that Fields of faith night will live forever in the hearts of many giving us great hope of one sweet day"

Hagan played a key role for the baseball Warriors last season. He scored 21 runs on 16 hits and recorded 13 RBI. In football this past season, he recorded 88 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, 50 receiving yards, one receiving touchdown, and one forced fumble.

Fellow students and athletes from Aucilla and the Big Bend have shared Gamalero's message on Instagram as well. The post has accumulated almost 900 likes Sunday. Athletes have also left thoughtful messages on Instagram.

"You will be missed Dakota ❤️ we weren't the closest of friends but we went through all of elementary are middle school together. Rest in peace 🕊️🤍," Aucilla classmate Taylor Nelson commented.

"Life is crazy I just done some work on this kids truck few months..he was healthy as ox in my eyes. Couldn’t ask better of kid it was always yes sir or no sir.. save me a spot killa..prayers for his family," Garrett Murphy posted on Facebook

"Rest In Peace sweet Angel, I’ll forever love you a skyfull! Your time was way too short but gods got a reason. Hold it down, Until I see you again Tink Tink," Alexis Braswell posted on Facebook.

The Aucilla boys basketball team is still scheduled to play Wakulla Christian in the Class 2A District 2 quarterfinals at FAMU DRS at 6 p.m. Monday.

According to Gamalero, Hagan wanted to try out basketball but didn't end up playing with the team this season. He is still listed on Aucilla Christian's roster on MaxPreps.

Jack Williams covers prep sports for Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him via email at, on Twitter @jackgwilliams.

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Aucilla Christian Academy announces student-athlete Dakota Hagan died