A Calgary youth hockey club is honoring the life of a 13-year-old player who died unexpectedly last week.
Eric Homersham, an eighth grader at West Island College, died Nov. 9 after collapsing at a school basketball tryout. A cause of death has not been determined.
The tragedy has reverberated within his Calgary Wolverines team and among his family and friends.
“There has been a tremendous amount of support and they are grieving that Eric was loved,” said Robert Homersham, Eric’s father.
“I had many friends. He was a really generous and affectionate boy. A bit of a joker, a funny guy, obviously he was taken from us too soon. He would have had a great life.”
“We are heartbroken, and we probably will be forever,” added Eric’s mother, Kathy. “He had such a zest for life.”
They described their son as a natural athlete who loved the ice as much as he loved the links, spending endless hours on the golf course. With a love of the outdoors, he was a mainstay riding scooters or bikes with his friends around his Willow Park neighborhood.
The youngest of three brothers, Eric had been with the Southeast Calgary youth Wolverines Hockey Club for eight years, joining the program as Timbit in 2014. He started with the Division 1 Under-15 team this season.
The team reunited after Eric’s death and decided to play their scheduled November 12 game as a tribute to him, complete with a moment of silence and a ceremonial puck throw by Robert.
All of the team’s players wore name bars on their jerseys reading ‘HOMERSHAM’ in recognition of Eric, and the club is also distributing commemorative helmet stickers to all of its teams for players to wear.
“Words truly cannot express the sadness we feel as we process this tremendous loss,” Wolverines president Georgina Anderson wrote in a letter to parents.
About 500 people turned out for the tribute game, emotions running high as fans packed the Acadia Recreation Complex. That support shows how many lives Eric touched, his parents said.
“It was very, very moving at a time when we were, and still are, so overwhelmed with grief and sadness that Eric is gone,” Robert said.
“I could see that the children were struggling. It wasn’t easy for them to deal with this, of course, but I’m glad they did it because I think it helped to play, to get back into the sport.”
Eric’s legacy will be felt far beyond his Wolverine family, Kathy said.
“He has touched so many people, absolutely in his hockey, but also in the community that we live in and in the school community,” he said.
“Wherever he went, people wanted to be with him. People gravitated to become his friend.”
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