Tyler Lucas, a "Shining Star" for All to See, Memorial Services on Monday, Feb.7th
I have sat down a couple of times to talk about Tyler. Each time i have been frustrated by my inability to explain Tyler to others, my relationship with him, what he meant to the community, and the remarkable impact he had on everyone he met. Jim called me Tuesday, just after I returned from the doctor. Jim and I had been playing phone tag, I was home sick, and i just missed his call. Then I got his text that Tyler had been in a car accident, and that he was no longer with us. I called Jim immediately, to find out what had happened, and Jim related Tyler's accident on 405 in his little car on the way to school. I cried with Jim on the phone, and told him I would be over that evening. He was sobbing into the phone, and after hanging up, I couldn't stop myself. How could this happen? How could it happen to such an amazing young man. It is a golden rule, not to expect life to be fair, but taking Tyler from us, wasn't just "not fair" for him, or his parents, it wasn't fair for anyone that knew him.
To that point, i started receiving texts and phone calls from every corner of Lacrosse community in Washington, wondering what they could do, did this really happen? and the tougher questions, how to deal with this loss. I could only focus on my grief for the first few hours, and that of Jim and Patty, whom I love so dearly. It "isn't fair" for someone to be torn away from his family, or for his parents to have a memorial for their son at 18, or that he won't become an amazing Lacrosse player at Dominican next year. It isn't fair, I didn't get to have a last conversation with one of my favorite kids that I had ever had the pleasure of coaching or mentoring. Instead, I, along with a cavalcade of others, would have to rely on the most notable memories I had of Tyler...
I remember the first time I saw Tyler- this long, dandy lion of a kid, droopy at the top and the bottom with a long stick, and his trademark smile. This was Starz tryouts during his Middle School time, and he was already an impressive player at that time. I remember thinking, Lacrosse is getting big here, but you still find kids who are not *pure* athletes becoming good Lacrosse players. He didn't look like much, but the kid listened, worked hard and was pretty good. Enter Tyler Lucas. Tyler had many gifts, only diminished by trying to capture them in words, but one of them was his charisma. I don't know many kids who, even in middle school, would be the gravity that pulled kids together, no matter where he was. This was Tyler, and would be Tyler for the rest of the time I knew him. Tyler was a smile waiting for you on every trip I ever took with him. Sometimes wearing PJs to the airport, sometimes bringing his sisters pink Dora backpack on trips with him, always not matching, or even concerned with what he had on. He embodied Bob Marley's "One Love" philosophy in more ways than I can list. He had friends on every team he played against, here in Washington and other places- it didn't matter.
Tyler didn't apply himself in school early in High School. Something I was always on him about because of his talent and passion for playing Lacrosse. He eventually changed schools so he could continue his dream of playing college Lacrosse by getting better grades. He did, by the way, get better grades- A's and B's. He wasn't going to jeopardize his college career at Dominican because of grades.
It was on another Starz trip where we realized Tyler had another hurdle. He was a Diabetic, but seeing his exhaustion and fatigue, we kept giving him orange juice because none of us knew what was causing the problem for him. We soon did. Another player, Dom Shiro, helped Tyler deal with what that meant to be a diabetic and play Lacrosse at that level and that intensity. Sure enough, Tyler overcame that obstacle as well. He was a laid-back leader; a lax junkie who even the lax junkies looked up to. A stick stringer; one the likes many won't even know, though he has trained some stick Ninjas to pass on his art. A coachable player; Tyler loved to hear every nuance of the game of Lacrosse- then he would put into action; then he would teach others how to do the same thing. Tyler had many gifts.
As a coach, I coached Tyler through Middle School, and through High School through Starz on multiple teams. He played West Coast Starz, and became one of the best defensemen in Washington. Several of the attackmen who played against him, took the time to come to his candlelight vigil on Wednesday night to share some of their moments. Some of the best players in Washington respected Tyler as a player. Doug Mahony made a great statement at Tyler's vigil which I wanted to pass on to others. Doug hates everyone. This makes his life easier when he plays against these other kids. He had hoped that after high school he could be friends with these other players from other schools, because he thought that might be a good thing. He enjoyed playing against Tyler, and looked forward to the match-up, as did kids from Bellevue, Bainbridge, and of course Issaquah. But he lamented he didn't do that before now with Tyler, and he would not get that opportunity. Tyler had the respect of some of the most dangerous offensive players in Washington. Many coaches too.
I drove over to Jim and Patty's house, half not sure what to do for them, but just going to be there for them. I missed Tyler so much already. When I arrived, i found the entire Issaquah team at Jim and Patty's house, some friends from Starz from all over, coaches, family and his parents. We mourned together and separately the passing of such a brilliant star. Brandon Fortier, Issaquah's head coach also talked about Tyler at his vigil, and I wanted to pass that on to others as well, hope you don't mind, Brandon. Brandon makes highlight videos for his players, and puts them to music. Normally, it is headbanger music, or rap, but for Tyler, it was "Shining Star" by Earth, Wind and Fire. That Typified Ty in so many ways. He was always a positive influence on others, a shining star for others to see. He was a mentor to lesser players, and great players alike.
I left thinking about how and what the community could do to make something powerful to show the impact he had on the world. The natural thought was a helmet decal. Others thought this as well, and almost like an atomic force, we pulled together to make something happen. After arriving home from the airport yesterday, the community had already begun gathering, rallying, supporting this tragedy. More than 800 people, with less than a day's notice gathered to honor their friend Tyler. I pulled up to Issaquah High School to a completely packed parking lot. Surprised, but not surprised, i wondered over to share with others what i felt, and hear how he touched them. How powerful to see all these people there. Kids, coaches, players, parents, schoolmates, rivals alike. More than 20 people said what they could of Tyler, many (including myself) struggled to find the words at first. In front, pictures of Tyler, his stick, other items and letters for people to share how Tyler touched their life. I thought of what I could say about Tyler, and what would do this young man justice in reverence, and I said a few words, much fewer than I felt, but all I could articulate at the time. More than 20 people spoke on behalf of Tyler. All the candlelight reminded me of Brandon's "Shining Star" remark. Nelson once wrote something very inspirational. A message for all those who are not truly in touch with their own abilities or greatness,
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." Thank you for liberating others, Tyler.
Folks who know me pretty well, know that I love Star Wars, and can probably recite the lines by heart for most of the movies. This is something of an inside joke amongst several players, so to Ty, my final Star Wars quote to you from Yoda, "Luminous beings are we not this crude matter."
Edna St. Vincent Millay once said, "I burn my candle at both ends, It will not last the night. But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends, It gives a lovely light". Thank you for the lovely light, Ty.
Tyler will have a memorial service Monday, February 7th beginning at 11:30 AM at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Duthie Hill Road chapel (1.9 miles East of Pacific Cascade Middle School). He will have a viewing from 10:30-11:20 AM before the service.
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Graveside Service will be Monday, February 7th at 2:00PM at the Hillside Cemetery in Issaquah (located between Mt. Park Avenue and Sunset Way – above the fish hatchery on the hill.) Both are open to the public.
If you attend Tyler's service, please make sure you wear purple if you are from Issaquah, Gold if you were on Tyler's team. If you are a Starz player, wear your Starz jersey. Otherwise, please wear your jersey for your program if you are not from Issaquah. Tyler will be buried in his Yellow Issaquah State Championship Jersey from 2009, and the Lucas family welcomes the respects from the Lacrosse community.