'She loved fiercely': Carley McCord's family reflects on life lost in Lafayette plane crash

Ashley White
Lafayette Daily Advertiser
View Comments

Carley McCord and her sister Kaleigh had a plan. 

They were in high school, but they weren't going to class that day. They didn't tell their parents. And when St. Michael the Archangel High School left an absentee message on their home voicemail, they deleted it. 

They hopped in Carley's Nissan Xterra, leaving Kaleigh's matching one behind. They drove from Baton Rouge to Biloxi, where they met their friend. 

Instead of class, the trio planned their own field trip and spent the whole day soaking in the sun on the beach and shopping at the outlet mall before driving back.  

It's a favorite memory for Kaleigh McCord, now Pedersen, of her younger sister, who was killed Dec. 28. The small passenger plane she boarded, which was headed to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, crashed killing McCord and four others. 

Family, friends and colleagues gathered Saturday for McCord's private funeral and burial in Baton Rouge. The 30-year-old sports broadcaster leaves behind husband Steve Ensminger Jr., the son of LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger.

"I’m gonna miss her silly laugh," Pedersen said. "I'm going to miss her showing up randomly at my house. I'm going to miss her sporadic stuff and that goofy laugh and her loving my kids. 

"I'm gonna miss her. I'm gonna miss all of her."

McCord was spunky. She loved to laugh and make others laugh. She would tag her friends in memes and videos on Instagram.  

She and her husband were known for goofy antics, like buying each other gas station gifts. 

In the weeks before McCord died, Ensminger ordered a 7-foot teddy bear that he had to get stuffed. But he told Pedersen he thought about hiding in it to scare her first. 

"They were just so silly," Pedersen said. "They had just a great love." 

Now, Ensminger plans to have the bear stuffed and to give it to Pedersen's 3-year-old daughter. 

When McCord was a child, she told people she wanted to be an ostrich. She even made up a song about it. 

McCord loved boy bands, Pedersen said. Growing up, the pair were into the Hanson brothers, a popular '90s group. Pedersen said they painted their room light purple and would sing "MMMBop" on repeat. 

Even as an adult, McCord was obsessed with Justin Bieber, Pedersen said. She even flew to Ohio to see him perform in concert. 

McCord had a passion for sports. It was fueled in high school where McCord was a cheerleader and became a national powerlifting champion at age 15.  

That passion propelled her career. She wanted to be a sideline football reporter, Pedersen said, and was a devout New Orleans Saints fan.

Her NFL career started with the Cleveland Browns as an in-house broadcast media specialist. She also worked with CBS radio and ESPN. She turned down an opportunity to be on ABC's The Bachelor to take the job, she once said on her podcast

Then, she returned to her hometown of Baton Rouge. 

At the time of her death, she held eight jobs: in-house media host for the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans; TV sports reporter for WDSU; sideline reporter for ESPN and Cox Sports; in-house digital media manager for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame; travel agent; and international instructor teaching children in China to speak English as a second language.

"When she could break away, you would find her jumping on the trampoline with her niece and nephew, hosting king cake parties, dancing with friends, schooling others how to do hair and makeup, traveling to the beach or spending time with her dog – Reggie Bush," her family wrote in her obituary. "Throughout it all, she was given loving support from her husband Steven Ensminger, Jr."

McCord cherished her college alma mater: Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. She would often tease her father-in-law, the Tiger football team's offensive coordinator,  with "Go Demons," replacing the LSU mascot in the cheer with Northwestern's.

She was a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, where her sorority sisters pushed her to enter the Miss Northwestern Lady of the Bracelet, which led her to compete in other Miss America Organization pageants. That's where she could show off her singing talent. 

McCord's interests reflect the energy and heart she brought to her passions. And that same heart carried over to all parts of her family, including her sister. 

"She loved fiercely," Pedersen said. "And never held a grudge. You could be in a fight with her one day and the next day she would call you and say she was coming over."

In lieu of flowers, her family has asked donations be made to the Carley McCord Memorial Scholarship created in her honor at Northwestern

Read more Lafayette related news:

Carley McCord on the sidelines as The New Orleans Saints take on the Dallas Cowboys in the Mecedes-Benz Superdome.
 Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019.

Contact Ashley White at adwhite@theadvertiser.com or on Twitter @AshleyyDi

View Comments