OKLAHOMA CITY (CNN) — Some 300 mourners crowded inside Eagle Heights Baptist Church here Friday to pay their respects to an elementary school student killed when a tornado churned through nearby Moore, Oklahoma.
“It is hard to believe someone 8 years old can fill up a church like this,” said Landon House, a soccer coach.
A coffin adorned with soccer jerseys and a spray of flowers shaped like a soccer ball held the body of Kyle Davis, a soccer fanatic at Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was razed by the storm Monday.
He was a force on the soccer field. His stocky build earned him a nickname: “The Wall.”
“Kids just bounced off of him,” Davis’ grandfather Marvin Dixon said Wednesday. “He just loved being with his Pawpaw and I loved being with him. I’m just going to miss him.”
Kyle was among 24 people — 10 of them children — who lost their lives Monday when a massive tornado hit Moore. Seven children died at Plaza Towers Elementary School.
His teacher in kindergarten and second grade struggled to maintain her composure. “Kyle was always a thoughtful child in my classroom,” said Emily Eischen, who likened the “little blue-eyed, blond-hair boy” to her own son. “My heart aches.”
Davis had attended a different church, but the number of attendees required a larger facility.
Two hours before the funeral began, the church parking lot was already full. Dozens of children wore soccer uniforms in support of their fallen teammate.
Many of those who spoke during the service cited Kyle’s love of soccer and reputation for doling out hugs to anyone willing to accept them.
A soccer ball was passed around for attendees to sign.
His family wore jerseys bearing Kyle’s number, 16, and a local soccer group announced it would retire that number as a gesture of support.
“A coach receives as much from the kids as the kids receive from the coach,” said Josh White, who coached Kyle. “I saw miracles in action. Thank you for letting me witness the miracle of Kyle.”
The Rev. Dewayne Klepper said Kyle’s last words to his mother were, “I love you, Mama.”