Santa Rosa County coach Joe Austin loses battle with COVID-19

Milton High School track and field coach Joe Austin passed away Sunday night, after his intensive battle with COVID-19.

Austin was currently the Dean of Students at Martin Luther King Middle School in Milton and will be dearly missed by all his students and athletes. Known for his dedication and big heart for his students, Austin was loved by many.

Austin was known as Coach Austin to not only the Milton High School track team, but also the Navarre High School track team, where he served as girl’s head coach and the Navarre High School football team, where we served as assistant football coach in the mid 2000’s.

Countless friends, athletes and coworkers have posted to Facebook grieving the loss of their unforgettable coach, teacher, dean, and friend Austin.

Among the posts on Austin’s timeline was a post from Florida state representative Jayer Williamson, who was a former roommate of Austin, right after college.

On Monday morning, Williamson wrote, “Joe Austin was such a great guy. Mr. Positive, a gentle giant and always a great sense of humor.”

He continued on to say, “More importantly than my personal recollections of Joe, he always thrived to be a great father, husband, brother and son. And he always wanted to make others feel better or do better”

Kind words about Austin were also shared by former Navarre High School student and track athlete Kaitlyn Johnson.

“I wish I would’ve told him how grateful I am for everything he’s done and taught me. I’m so thankful that he saw something inside of me as a young, scared freshman that I didn’t even know was there. He showed me how to run competitively and practice hard to win easy,” she said.

Johnson now teaches at Navarre High School as a world history and psychology teacher. She also coaches girl’s basketball and coaches hurdles for the track team.

“Coach Austin, I will forever be striving towards being as kind and caring of a coach/teacher/mentor as you were,” she added.

Austin will we missed by many and his legacy will live on in the hearts of those he impacted.

“Everybody loved Coach Austin, even the ones he had to be tough on. Rest in peace, Big Joe. A lot of folks are better because of your short time with us. Love ya, brother!” representative Williamson said.

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