PECULIAR, Mo. — The Raymore-Peculiar School District is mourning the loss of an important mentor, an inspiration and someone to look up to, according to Lauren Way’s peers.

The 37-year-old was a coach, teacher and friend of many. She died suddenly due to a medical issue.

“The people that are young, like her niece and nephew, they’re just not going to ever understand how amazing she was,” Scott Lowe said.

Lowe is one of Way’s longtime friends, part of tightknit group from Chillicothe, Missouri, that was bonded by their mothers’ friendship.

“Lauren would always call them the hens. She’d hang out with the hens,” Lowe said.

Way’s fun-loving personality and positive outlook on life is what he’s going to miss most.

“Always looking after other people,” Lowe said. “She was kind of the motherly figure of the group, always making sure everyone was OK.”

She leaves behind a big extended family and friends — plus, several hundred kids she taught and coached.

“Those students, her players, those were her kids,” Lowe said.

Students at Raymore-Peculiar High School said Coach Way will live on through every pitch, hit and catch out on the softball diamond.

“I think they’ll absolutely play their hearts out,” Bella Garcia said.

Way taught Garcia to believe in herself on and off the field.

“I wish I could give her one last hug and tell her I love her,” Garcia said.

The ability to reach young minds is a gift that Activities Director Kirk Hipple said not everyone inhibits. Way had it down to a science and touched many hears.

“There’s a lot of tears,” Hipple said. “Through those tears we know we’ll continue the strength that she gave us each and every day.”

Students and staff grieved together Tuesday. They have every intention to “Live Way’s Way” moving forward.

“I hope just hope her girls knew how proud of them she was,” Lowe said. “She doted on them and bragged on them all the time. I hope they know that.”