A reminder that it's a privilege to play this game

Brodie Merrill (center) and the Philadelphia Wings. (Philadelphia Wings photo)

This weekend marks the sixth annual Jammer Classic, a lacrosse tournament held in honor of Jamieson Kuhlmann. Jamieson was a student at The Hill Academy and a player for the Toronto Beaches who tragically passed away at the age of 15.

Jamieson attended The Hill in our second year of existence. He had gotten off track his freshmen year at his local high school and knew he needed a change. I can remember meeting Jamieson for the first time. He was extremely quiet, but you could tell there was substance beyond his introverted demeanor. You could also tell there was a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He was out to prove something and initially it could be sensed that he had his guard up.

What I love about sport is the way it can break down the walls, push individuals outside their comfort zone and expose things about yourself you didn't know existed. That is what we witnessed with Jamieson. He was one of the younger and less experienced players in our program, but he had a quiet focus and determination to turn things around.

He followed our strength and conditioning coach around like a puppy dog, picking his brain, constantly asking in his low voice "how do I become jacked?” 

When the rest of the group took the bus, he stayed behind and ran back to the dorms (with his buddy AJ Pellis). No one asked him to, but he had that intrinsic motivation.

We had a strong team that year with players like Travis Comeau, Nils Thompson, the Noble brothers, Zach Palmer, Randy Staats, Ryan Burnham, Dillion Ward...most of whom he lived with in the Hill dorm house.  It was a group of characters with a lot of personality.

They were great teammates to Jamieson and helped him find himself again. Never underestimate the power of a kind teammate. They gave him the nickname Jammer and dragged him out of his shell. Jamieson gradually opened up. I can remember handing out a self-reflection to our players and was surprised with what I got back from Jamieson. Most of the players gave one or two word answers, but Jamieson filled the pages with his dreams and goals for the future.

Jamieson was a humble and genuine kid; mature beyond his years. He had a cool, understated demeanor about him.  (He had the look of a young Mark Walberg). I often catch myself thinking about where Jamieson would be today.  I see his classmates experiencing success at the next level and I know he would have done the same.

I wish we had more time. He was just hitting his stride and breaking out in many areas.  It's sad and frustrating. He has left behind many great friends and family members that have done a great job keeping his legacy alive. As his parents are quick to point out, he wasn't a perfect kid- but he had some intangible qualities that were pretty unique and pretty special.

I hope everyone enjoys the Jammer Classic this weekend; it's easy to feel his presence down on that Toronto lakeshore if you look out for it.

It feels like we have some positive momentum heading into our game this Friday night. When you think of Jamieson's story you can't help but feel an appreciation for the game and a reminder that it is a privilege to be able to play the game.