Washburn football remembers fallen teammate two years after deadly shooting

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 6:39 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Two years ago Wednesday, Washburn football players Dwane Simmons and Corey Ballentine were both shot outside of a home near SW 13th and Lane in Topeka. The New York Giants had selected Ballentine in the NFL Draft hours earlier.

Ballentine suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Simmons, a junior on the Washburn football team at the time, died at the scene. He was 23 years old.

“We think of Dwane all the time,” Craig Schurig, head coach for the Ichabods, said Wednesday. “Most of the time it’s in an uplifting way because of the way he approached things and the energy that he had. Usually you have a smile on your face when you think of him. But today and yesterday was a little more solemn.”

In the two years since his death, the Ichabods have honored the life of their fallen teammate in a number of ways — wearing his number on their helmets, touching a sign with his name on it every day before and after practice, and leaving his locker standing in the team locker room, to name a few.

“A lot of the guys that were close with Dwane, some of his closest friends will be part of the team for the next couple of years,” Schurig said. “So his memory and his spirit will be with us in a strong way.”

Court proceedings continue for Simmons’ alleged killer.

Francisco Mendez, 18 years old at the time of the shooting, faces one charge of premeditated first-degree murder and four counts of attempted first-degree murder.

He also faces seven counts of aggravated robbery for holdups before and after the shooting.

The trial has seen delays in the past year due to lawyer changes and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the court system.

“I think that can be somewhat of a healing process once that gets underway,” Schurig said. “Hopefully full justice is served.”

Mendez’s next appearance on the homicide charge is Monday, May 3.

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