Vaughn died tragically in August as the result of anaphylactic shock from multiple hornet stings. A 2017 University of Tennessee graduate and the co-owner of Mr. Green Thumb, he was just 26 years old. His father, Chris Vaughn, explained how it came that a memorial fund for the wrestling program was set up with a check of $10,435 donated.
“My boys loved the wrestling program and they loved the coaches at Science Hill,” Chris Vaughn said. “We set up the memorial fund and the outreach in the community was unbelievable. The love of the community, my family can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done.
“We brought in a lot of money. The first part of the money goes to a top-of-the-line wrestling mat in memory of Elliot. The remaining money left over — and hopefully will continue to be funded through the Elliot Vaughn Memorial Fund — will provide a $2,000 scholarship for the girls wrestling and the boys wrestling.”
Noted for his great attitude, Elliot Vaughn was more of a role player his first three years. Once he got the opportunity to be an everyday wrestler his senior season, he captured the Region 1-AAA championship in the 189-pound weight class and qualified for the state championships.
He won over 40 matches that season and was named to the 2011 Johnson City Press Super 14 wrestling team. In addition, Vaughn helped the Hilltoppers reach the state dual semifinals and finish in fourth place. Science Hill also finished seventh at the state individual championships.
His father said Elliot had a smile on his face whether he was one of the starters or serving as an alternate.
“He would wake up at 5:30 in the morning to cut weight in case they needed a wrestler. So many times, we would go and he wouldn’t wrestle,” Chris Vaughn remembered. “I would be like, ‘Elliot, does that bother you?’ He would be like, ‘No dad, it’s a team effort.’ He loved wrestling, but what was so important was what the coaches taught the kids with the discipline and confidence they gave them, the companionship and love.”
Science Hill coach Jimmy Miller and then-head coach Jeff Price also remembered Vaughn’s great attitude. It was an attitude he passed on to his younger brother, Max, who twice reached the state quarterfinals for the Hilltoppers.
“Elliot was a great kid who never met a stranger,” Miller said. “He was a bright, charming young man, who was also nice to everyone. He’s an example of what wrestling does to people, building character and working through adversity. The life lessons that wrestling teaches us, he experienced it first-hand. We remember the good times and good things that Elliot brought to our program.”
WRESTLING FOR A CURE
In addition to Tuesday’s mat dedication, Science Hill has partnered with Pin Cancer: Wrestle for a Cure, a nonprofit organization that gives wrestlers an avenue to inspire awareness and raise funds for cancer.
A check was presented after the first match as Science Hill and the visiting teams from Elizabethton and Jefferson County participated in the project.
“The coaches on my staff came to me and we started looking through our teams, our program. Every team has been affected by cancer in some way,” Miller said. “Coach (Martin) Frye has really jumped on this. He lost his mother earlier this year. Our young men need to learn that we have people out there who need our help, need our grace and we have more to offer than just a wrestling match.
“When we reached out to those teams, they really wanted to be a part of it, to help us raise money. Wrestling is a sport about camaraderie.”