Collage photo from http://www.teambeerhockey.com
Early this week, Leif and I were stunned to get an email from our old hockey team in San Jose, Team Beer mentioning that captain Kelly Calabro had died. Details were sparse (and still are), but he collapsed on the ice, and even after CPR and defibrillator attempts, he couldn't be revived. We weren't able to fly back to San Jose on such short notice with Peter, but we've been thinking a lot about this even this week, and were bummed to miss the memorial service last night. We were able to attend the Celebration of Life event tonight using a Skype video/audio link (thanks to Thad for setting that up for us). It was really cool to not only see all the old and new Beer members who attended, but also other hockey players who had never even met Kelly (other than running into him on the rink).
What was weird too was that the same night, at the same rink, just a few hours before, another guy, Brian Kobata, had died as well. :( Here's the Mercury News article: http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_11770229
Yesterday we went to Old Chicago for lunch, and while I don't drink Guinness, we both toasted a beer in his name (his team beer name was Guinness).
Thad wanted us to say a few words tonight, and while I did try to write something this afternoon, I ended up not really using it and just speaking from the heart. This is what I was going to say:
"Kelly always said "once a Beer, always a Beer", and anybody who's ever spent anytime on the Beer team can attest to how true that statement is. Leif and I have played on a bunch of hockey teams, but Beer is the one that we not only remember the most, but remember the most fondly. Kelly embodied the Beer spirit - loyalty, friendship, a sense of humor, and fun. It didn't matter if we won all of the games, or none of the games - he'd shrug and say "anybody for a beer after the game?" and it was all good. He was the biggest on the team, and I was the smallest, and you bet I was happy he was on my side. I loved being out with him because he was like a wall - easily moving the other team out of the crease - you felt a certain level of comfort having him around. Although he was quiet, he welcomed anybody and everybody into the Beer family with open arms. Once after we won the season at Rollin Ice, we all went out for pizza and beer. Leif's family from Sweden was in town, and Kelly not only insisted they come along, but also attempted to make conversation with them (even though they didn't speak English very well). That was the kind of person he was.
From Denver, Colorado, we raise a Guinness in honor of Kelly, wherever he may be now."
In the team photo, he's the furthest to the left in the back row.
Guinness, we'll miss you.