A game of love: Volleyball community remembers pilot killed in Cumberland County plane crash


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knoxville volleyball community is mourning the loss of one of their own. Vas Ghelan was killed in a plane crash in Cumberland County Tuesday morning.

Those who knew Ghelan don’t want people to remember him for how he died but for how he lived.

Ghelan was an avid volleyball player. He planned everything from pick-up games to tournaments both in East Tennessee and across the country.

“He would say, ya know let’s go set up somewhere, let’s go find a spot of grass and set up,” said David Middlebrooks, one of Ghelan’s friends. Middlebrooks says Ghelan was so much more than volleyball though.

He loved to travel, fish, and make every day an adventure. Another friend says anytime you got a picture from Ghelan he was somewhere new. Those who knew him best say he was a dedicated dad and husband. The said family was one of his top priorities.

“He has a beautiful wife and beautiful daughter and would just stop in the middle of a play and run over and give her a hug,” said Robin Antonini. She says Ghelan’s family wasn’t just blood though.

He spread love everywhere he went.

Volleyball players we spoke with say Ghelan would buy the lines, nets, balls, or anything else you might need for a game. His close friends say that was no different outside the sport. Whether dinner, drinks, or you were short a few bucks, Ghelan would always pick up the tab when he could.

“What’s yours is mine, he was just that guy,” said Antonini.

Travis Hawkins, Jr. says Ghelan lived a big life that he knew about but a bigger life he didn’t.

“Some of the stories people told me, I was just amazed on how many had an outpouring and are just shocked and will miss him and his impact,” said Hawkins.”He was one of the few guys that could sit in the middle and unify young, old, new-school, old-school — he was right there in the middle, to say ‘just get over it.'”

Hawkins says his message to everyone was always the same: Life is too short.

“He just loved really hard and he’ll be really missed,” said Antonini.

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