Cheer community gathers in prayer circle to remember Tristyn Bailey

Athletes, coaches say 13-year-old was fun to be around, could make anyone smile

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Tristyn Bailey was well-known and loved in the cheer sport community, remembered for her bright smile and big personality.

The 13-year-old girl’s body was found after a search Sunday. On Monday, Sheriff Robert Hardwick announced that a suspect, 14-year-old Aiden Fucci, was taken into custody on a second-degree murder charge in Bailey’s death.

For the past year, Bailey cheered at Infinity Allstars. Tracie Hartkemeyer, the gym owner, is stunned by the teenager’s death.

“We have never had such a tragedy,” Hartkemeyer said. “We have never lost an athlete, so it’s very heartbreaking for all of us.”

One week ago, Bailey traveled to the ESPN sports complex in Orlando for a Summit cheer competition with her team. No one thought it would ever be her last.

As they mourn Bailey’s death, they will come together Monday night in the same gym where Bailey brought so much joy to remember her for a beautiful smile and personality that can never be replaced.

“Tristyn was extremely bubbly. She was friendly to everyone. She was the life of the party,” Hartkemeyer said. “She could make a bad situation better, a bad practice -- she rallied. Told everybody let’s do it again.”

As they mourn Bailey’s death, they came together Monday night in the same gym where Bailey brought so much joy to remember her for a beautiful smile and personality that can never be replaced.

“Inside and out, Tristyn is a true, true beautiful person,” Hartkemeyer said. “Great personality. Wonderful athlete. And she will be missed so much by all of us here.”

The prayer circle at Infinity Allstars began at 7 p.m., and dozens of athletes and coaches attended to show their love for Bailey.

They said she was fun to be around and could make anyone smile and her death is unimaginable.

“It’s just heartbreaking for her family who can never see her again, be able to talk to her and say loving words to her,” said a friend of Bailey’s.

The friend said she and Bailey were in the same tumbling class.

“She’s grown so much as a tumbler this year,” the friend said. “She’s just always motivated to work harder.”

The friend said she’s going to miss Bailey’s smile the most.

“It always would light up the room. It was just, so good,” she said. “She always has a smile on her face, always lighting up, always has a positive mindset and positive words towards others.”

Her memories of being with Bailey in the gym are something she will hold onto forever.

Infinity Allstars said it is providing grief counselors for any athletes or parents.

Coaches said they will continue to pray for Bailey’s family during this difficult time.

About the Authors:

Veteran journalist and Emmy Award winning anchor

Corley Peel is a Texas native and Texas Tech graduate who covered big stories in Joplin, Missouri, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Jacksonville, Florida before returning to the Lone Star State. When not reporting, Corley enjoys hot yoga, Tech Football, and finding the best tacos in town.