Tight knit does not even begin to describe the Shea Heights neighbourhood, and the loss of 4 of its members last September in a tragic fishing accident has affected everyone in the community in some way or another.

Members of 3 generations of the Walsh family were on the boat: Eugene, Keith and Keith Jr., as well as friend Bill Humby.

“It was a really hard time” one of the boys on the Hill Raisers ball hockey team tells me as we chat at a fundraiser for their upcoming tournament. “So we wanted to do something for the family”.

11 to 13 year old boys are often more concerned with recreation than community service, but the kids in Shea Heights are a little different. 11 year old Daniel Druken, whose parents were friends of Keith Sr., remembers him as a good man and a passionate ball hockey player. “He was nice, kind, always willing to help. He’d do anything for you.”

Daniel thought that he and his buddies should form a ball hockey team in Keith’s honour this year. Their jerseys bear the name Walsh and the number 63, just like Keith’s did, and the boys were thoughtful enough to have jerseys made for the men’s widows as well. Play It Again Sports and Yetman’s Roofing were sponsors.

The kids tell me what they remember about Keith, and the loss becomes more real for me. Full of life and fun, he loved sports above most other things, and was very supportive of the youth teams from the area, both with fundraising and with inspirational speeches and mentoring. He would have a ball hockey shoot out booth at the Shea Heights folk festival to fundraise for his own team, with lots of prizes for the kids and was known to donate to the kids sports fundraising activities multiple times in one day.

So Daniel, along with Bower Issacs, Ethan Hayward, Gavin Hennessy, Ryder Fitzgerald, Riley O’Brien and Michael Howell-Bambrick will be representing Shea Heights and Keith’s memory at the Play On Ball Hockey Tournament in Mount Pearl on the 24th and 25th of June.

I’d never heard of it before, but it turns out Play On! is a pretty big deal, with over 300 teams playing in events all over Canada. At the end of a Play On! event, more than 1500 games will have been contested (your team will have played somewhere between three and nine of those games, depending on your level of greatness), and more than 13,000 goals will have been scored, the website informs me.

The boys are confident of their success, and so am I. But win lose or draw, those boys are already champions.