LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. -- "He was strong. He was always going against people that were bigger than him," said Bryan Shepardson, a coach and teacher for the Little Falls City School District.
Connor Gage was a true asset to the high school teams he played on.
"He always was one of those guys that just played as hard as he could, did everything we always asked," Shepardson said. "He's just someone you always wanted to have on the team."
Connor loved playing football for Little Falls High School, and it stuck with him even after he graduated.
"He had his jersey still because I think he loved the sport so much that I had to get it back from him after his career was over. But he was nice enough to give it back to me. He kept it a little bit longer than his career was so it made me smile when I look back at my texts," said Shepardson.
Sadly, those are the last texts Coach Bryan Shepardson will ever get from his former athlete and student.
Connor died this past weekend while away at college in Vermont.
He was found lying in snow in a parking lot.
Police believe cold weather was a factor in his death. Police said temperatures got as low as minus-four degrees on the morning they found Connor.
"It was one of those things where you hear it and it didn't feel real," Shepardson said. "Still does not. It's as tough as it gets."
The Superintendent said resources are available for students and staff both in and outside of the school during this difficult time.
"It would affect any school district, don't get me wrong, but you can the magnitude of the small culture that we have here and how everyone is having a very difficult time processing this. And everyone meaning teachers, faculty, staff, students, community," said Little Falls City School District Superintendent Dr. Keith Levatino.
Superintendent Levatino said other school districts have reached out to help too.
"'Whatever you need, whenever you need'. So if tomorrow we notice there's an increase in need, I'll reach out to them and they will send their guidance counselors, their social workers. It's a true team effort," he said.
Coach Shepardson said he would like to find a way to honor Connor, but right now the school is grieving the news.