As teammates and fellow reserves on the Wofford College basketball team, Eric Wagenlander and Jeremiah Tate spent a lot of time together.
“Roommates on the road, similar roles on the team, countless hours together,” Wagenlander said Monday. “Days and nights, it seemed like he was by my side in everything.”
That’s why it was such a shock when Wagenlander, a rising junior from Wando High School, woke up Monday to disheartening text messages and phone calls.
His friend Jeremiah, also a rising junior at Wofford, had died in a drowning accident Monday morning. Tate, from Columbia, was working as a camp counselor at YMCA Camp Thunderbird when he drowned in Lake Wylie, near Charlotte.
“He was the best, the best,” Wagenlander said. “A very diverse human being, a basketball player but also a delegate in our student government and a high academic student. He volunteered his time at a local elementary school. The best way I can say it is that he was the best.”
Wofford announced Tate’s death Monday.
“Jeremiah was such a dedicated, loved and respected member of the men’s basketball team,” Wofford athletic director Richard Johnson said. “He had a wonderful personality and had many friends on campus extending outside of the athletic department.
“He will truly be missed.”
Tate played in 13 games in two seasons at Wofford and appeared in an NCAA Tournament game against Michigan last season. He was an accounting major, a Bonner Scholar and member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Tate graduated from Lower Richland High School, where he was president of the student body and a member of the National Honor Society. He also ran track and cross country. He was born in Heidelberg, Germany, and is the son of Frank and Carole Tate.
“He taught everyone so much,” Wagenlander said. “The kid lived 19 years on this earth, but the lessons he taught us were indescribable. I’m forever grateful for the time I go to spend with him.”