Tim Devine helped train the football team, and when the players got tired, he’d tell them: “When it gets rough, just shut your mind off and fight through it.”
Quarterback Derek Baldoz said it became one of the team’s mantras.
“He was probably one of the most knowledgeable trainers I’ve ever worked with,” said Baldoz, 18. “He was motivating. The most motivational person I ever met.”
Devine, who turned 30 on July 4, died by suicide Tuesday morning on the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus, after a standoff with negotiators on the shoreline. and a community member who donated his time to raise money for local causes.
“Something like this is like the exact opposite of what he would do,” Baldoz said.
Friends described Devine as upbeat, happy and said they had no idea he was upset. They said they were shocked by what happened, especially to someone who worked so hard to help others.
Devine ran races to raise money for the Wounded Warrior program, brought in more than $3,000 for St. Jude’s Hospital in June with a fundraiser at his gym and last Sunday raised more than $2,000 for the organization “Autism Speaks.”
He graduated in 2001 from Stonington High School and played football there, the Fitch players said.
Baldoz and a small group of friends gathered at the shoreline Tuesday to say goodbye or to just try to make sense of it all.
Saffwan Davis, 17, a running back for Fitch, said one of the coaches was a friend of Devine’s and started the team training with him. Players worked with Devine three times a week, though they had not been in a few months.
Davis said Devine always knew what to say to keep them going.
“He would encourage you, say ‘That’s what’s going to make you a better player, teammate.’ He was always putting the right stuff in your head,” Davis said.
He said Devine had motivational sayings spray-painted on the wall of his gym.
“He was such a strong person,” Davis said. “He could have been building up his stress and not have told anyone else.”
'I looked up to him'
Alora-Rose Morgan, 15, a junior at Fitch and aspiring model who also trained with Devine, said he always asked how she was and was excited about what she had to tell him.
“I looked up to him a lot, because he was one of the strongest people I knew,” she said.
Her mother, Sarah Morgan, said they saw Devine on Sunday during a power lifting competition for “Autism Speaks.”
“It’s going to take these kids a long time to weed through their emotions,” she said. “They’re going to go through the emotions of anger, grief, disbelief . . . denial, guilt, these are all emotions they need to work through.”
Alora-Rose Morgan said: “I just felt like I had to say goodbye one last time.”
According to the website, Devine became involved with CrossFit after the loss of a close friend and coworker Todd Williamson, to cancer.
“His ordeal brought to light the true importance of health and wellness,” Devine’s bio on the website said. It said Devine visited GNC for years and spent “countless hours” on weight training before discovering CrossFit.
“It is my hope that I'll be able to prevent others from having to go through the pain that many Americans have to go through from illnesses and ailments,” his bio said.
Dana Parfitt, whose husband is a volunteer firefighter, said she saw Devine on Friday when he visited her brother after his release from the hospital.
Devine was kind, encouraging, she said.
“My heart is so sad right now,” she wrote on the Groton Patch facebook site. “This kind sweet soul was just days ago visiting my brother in rehab filled with gentleness and care for others around him.
“It just continues to prove that you never know what someone else's burdens are for so many are good at masking them with smiles. What a great loss for our community...he will be missed.”