MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — The school community in Martin County is mourning the loss of a high school football player and senior scheduled to graduate this month.
The school district identified the student as Nikolas "Nik" Lawrynas, a member of the Martin County High School football team and 4.0 student.
A GoFundMe page said the 17-year-old student's death on Saturday was sudden and has left his family members heartbroken.
"He will be remembered as a quiet leader who was instrumental in building camaraderie amongst students and remaining passionate about our Tiger Family culture in all things," the school district post said.
Lawrynas was an accomplished student who earned first-team, all-area offense honors and was named the school's offensive lineman of the year.
He wore No. 58 on the field.
Both of Lawrynas' parents are teachers at Martin County High School, including his father who is a defensive coach on the football team.
A cause of death has not been released.
Teammates and longtime friends of Lawyrnas' spoke to WPTV Monday.
"We called him Niko. He was definitely one of the funniest guys on the team, if not the funniest," said teammate Tanner Kambour.
Teammate Drew Weil said he and Lawrynas would broadcast basketball games together with color and commentary. Lawrynas was hoping to attend Florida State University to study sports media or marketing, Weil said.
"He was tough. Very, very competitive. He played his sophomore year with a cast on. He broke his wrist and played the entire sophomore year with a cast on," said teammate Alejandro Ocampo.
They all learned of the news of his sudden passing over the weekend, just a couple of weeks before they would have been graduating high school together.
"It’s a hard thing to go through especially graduating in a few weeks, having to have an empty seat next to us is not going to be easy,” Kambour said.
Athletic Director Mark Cowles has been watching the team pull together.
"When I spoke to them today, I said, 'It's OK to feel what you feel.' And I've gone through the gamut of emotions from anger, to confusion, to sadness," Cowles said.
Many teammates and friends visited the Lawrynas family’s house as soon as they learned of Nikolas' sudden passing.
"I almost felt guilty of being proud when I heard the message that 70-plus student-athletes showed up at the house on Saturday to show their support," Cowles said.
Trevor Shpiruk is one of Lawrynas' teammates and the co-founder of a local crisis non-profit, Elev8Hope.
"I just immediately thought how can I help?” Shpiruk said. In less than 24 hours, a GoFundMe he helped create raised more than $25,000 for the Lawrynas family. "I feel good that we were at least able to make a small impact," Shpiruk said.
The team had a light spring practice Monday, saying it felt better being all together.
Grief teams will be on campus for students and staff this week.