‘You never saw him without a smile’: Chesterfield native killed in Va. Tech shooting remembered 10 years later

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — This week, 8News is remembering the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting tragedy.

One of the 32 victims, Matthew Gwaltney, was from Chesterfield County, a graduate of Thomas Dale High School.

“You never saw him without a smile,” said Dale Sammons, who was one of Gwaltney’s baseball coaches.

Ask anyone who knew Gwaltney, and the first thing they say about him is he had a smile that would light up a room, or even a baseball field. Coach Sammons says Matt was one of a kind.

“I knew Matt at a young age,” Sammons said.

Sammons says despite always having a smile on his face, Matt was competitive on the ball field.

“He played second (base) and short(stop) and played some outfield, we had him kind of moving around,” Sammons recalled.

In fact, his love for baseball is now inspiring another generation, spreading his love for the sport. The very field Matt grew up playing on has now been named after him. Theee years ago the “Matt Gwaltney Field” at Thomas Dale was unveiled. At the time, we spoke with his father, Greg Gwaltney, about the tribute.

“Just being here and being part of it and the phone calls and letters and cards have been overwhelming, and we feel very privileged not only to be naming the field after Matt but also being part of the community here at Thomas Dale,” said G. Gwaltney added.

Another way Matt’s legacy lives on is through a scholarship started in his name. And make no mistake: The decade now since his death has done little to heal the pain still felt by this community.

“He had his life in front of him,” Sammons said. “When something like this happends, its just, what are you going to say? You cant put it into words.”

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