On the afternoon of May the 6th, across our state, young athletes took to fields, diamonds, pitches, dojos, dance floors, courts, and pools to have some fun, work their butts off and play their hearts out. One young man, Dylan McInnis, 14, the son of Chip and Jamie of Old Town, would not. It is a tragic irony that a boy with so much heart would possess a congenitally defective one.
According to his obituary, Dylan enjoyed nature and technology and planned to study New Media at the University of Maine. He studied photography and the weather. According to everyone who knew him, he loved his family and he loved hockey.
In a world ever more divided by ideology and social isolation, youth sports is one of the activities that builds communities. Our children may, at times, wear different jerseys or play at different levels but they are all of them, from the All-Stars of the NHL to the kid putting on hip pads for the first time, our hockey players. Dylan was one of us. One of ours. He was the best of all we hope youth sports should be. He played hard. He had fun. He showed the next generation how to let go of the boards and fly across the ice. His loss has been felt deeply by so many. The pity is for those who will never get to meet him.
The question arises as to how to honor this young man. The family has asked that memorial contributions be made to the Maine Jr. Black Bears Hockey Program. What do we do with these contributions? Do we create a scholarship fund? Have patches made? Create a Dylan McInnis Award? All three? Such gestures feel hollow only in that they cannot bring him back to us. They cannot change the deck he was dealt. But honored he shall be. Remembered and missed.
Somewhere, in an old barn where the ice never comes out and even Eddie Shore has long lost count of the score, Jean Beliveau and Hobey Baker will make room for another player on the bench. Shawn Walsh will tap the young man on the shoulder and tell him to go take the face off. Somewhere, Dylan’s true heart, the one that still burns bright will quicken as he skates to the center dot.
The family has asked that friends call 6-8 PM Tuesday at Birmingham Funeral Home 438 Main St Old Town. It is requested that hockey jerseys be worn in honor of Dylan. A celebration of his life will be conducted 3PM Wednesday at the Old Town United Baptist Church. Burial will follow at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor.
Whether you can attend or not, his hockey family, the Maine Jr. Black Bears, ask that all hockey players wear their favorite jersey to school, to work, to the grocery store, wherever, on Tuesday, May 10 in tribute.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Maine Junior Black Bear Hockey Program PO Box 444 Old Town, ME 04468
Notes of condolences may be left at www.birminghamfuneralhome.com