The man accused in the shooting death of a church elder at the Salmon Arm Church of Christ on Sunday, April 14 once excelled as an athlete at Salmon Arm Secondary.
Matrix Gathergood, now 25, stands charged with first degree murder in the killing of Gordon Parmenter, 78, as well as aggravated assault and disguising his face with the intent to commit an offence.
Gathergood played several sports, including football, rugby and wrestling. His coaches are shocked by the charges.
Ray Munsie, who coached him in wrestling, is shaken.
“Wrestling is a tremendously transformative sport, more than any I’ve been involved in,” says Munsie, who has coached high school wrestling since 1972 and worked with 13 Olympians.
“Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” he says, his voice breaking. “My ability to transform his character, to build his character, I failed. I’m so sad for everyone involved. When you get so deeply invested in kids… This is a terrible, terrible thing.”
He describes Gathergood as strong, powerful and very tough, but also mean if he knew he was better than somebody.
“He had issues for sure, but I would never have seen this coming. When you say he’s been charged, I could never have predicted that.”
Greg Seed coached Gathergood in rugby.
“That’s a bit of a shocker; I don’t know what to say,” said Seed, a teacher at SAS.
“I coached him for a couple of years in high school. In Grade 8 he was a phenomenal player – fit, athletic, a huge positive influence on the team.”
Seed described him as “a force to be reckoned with” on the field, strong and solid with a love for tackling the opposition. Seed says he saw him more recently at a wedding and he was different; it appeared he was “not heading down the most academic path.”
Seed said Gathergood’s father drove him and his brother to football and rugby practices, and he said the Gathergoods and Parmenters both lived in Silver Creek, not far apart.
SAS teacher Rob Neid coached him in football and describes him as a good athlete.
“He did well in the sports that he played,” Neid said Monday.
In 2011, Gathergood was featured in the Salmon Arm Observer when he had advanced to the final stage of try-outs for Team BC.
Asked his reaction to the charges, Neid said: “It’s a pretty sad story. I lost touch with him when he left high school. I know he was dealing with some things. I don’t really know him anymore.”
The allegations against Gathergood have not been proven in court.