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15th ANNUAL MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT 2017
THE STORY OF A REMARKABLE YOUNG SOCCER PLAYER
The Story of a Young Man that Changed a Local Clubs Perspective on what a Tournament is held for.
About Seth... Summer days in the Redwoods rarely get very hot. Tall trees and a foggy northern California coast keep the sun from bearing down. Still, by mid afternoon, rays of light manage to break through in warm patches. It was on such an afternoon that Seth and his sisters, Cara and Kayla, played in a shallow creek bed. They chased minnows and piled rocks into little dams. In a campsite just up the bank, their father heard their laughter and their plotting as they tried to trap some minnows. Eventually the girls began to tire of their adventure and told their brother that they wanted to return to the camp. Seth, then just ten years old, replied, "Not me. This is the chance of a lifetime. I don't want to miss a minute of it." Cara and Kayla stayed on to play with their brother, until at last they were called to dinner. A mother and father can only offer a chance of a lifetime. What pride and joy there is when a child recognizes that chance and takes advantage of it.
To know why there's a Kolping Seth Stevens Memorial Soccer Tournament, you have to know why coaches and teammates and parents even had the idea. Why they cared enough to follow through. Why they cajoled others into helping them. What was it about one quiet, unassuming boy that touched them? To know this you need to feel their loss and victory. Their loss is in not having Seth here with them now; their victory is in having known him at all. And to understand these things, you have to know Seth.
Perhaps the best place to start is with his understatement. On the soccer field Seth had speed, a big kick, and a lot of heart. He made the surprisingly masterful play look effortless. He was determined and at ease. He was happy. With his long stride, it often seemed like he was moving in slow motion. You would think he wasn't trying; then realize he'd covered great distance. You would be awed by a game saving play from nowhere; then stunned by his casual stroll back to position. He was just doing what he was supposed to do. What's the big deal? He understood the game. He had grace. His teammates were surprised to learn that Seth was a grade ahead in school. They were surprised to learn that he played the cello. They were surprised that he was in advanced math, that he loved history and geography, art and of all things, Latin. Seth never made a big deal about these things either. He never made a big deal about the honor roll. Seth loved LegoÕs and puzzles and Playstation II's. He loved building forts and models and going camping, too. But especially he loved having friends and being a friend. Seth turned twelve years old on October 6th, 2001.
A few weeks later he started having fevers. At first he was diagnosed with mononucleosis. It would take some time for his illness to run its course. But he didn't get better, and he started losing weight. Five days before Christmas, 2001, Seth's parents and doctors sat by his hospital bedside and told him that he had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Chemotherapy started the next day. Everyone was hopeful that the treatment would go well. Everyone thought he would be strong enough to return to school in three weeks. Two days after Christmas Seth was home again. His presents were waiting for him under the tree. Three days later his throat hurt so badly he couldn't eat. He returned to the hospital, where he stayed. Treatment was difficult for Seth. He had many complications. During the course of his treatment he became so weak that he was no longer able to walk or bear his own weight. With that turn of events he said, "You know what the best part about having cancer is? It's when I get back on the soccer field and beat some kid to the ball that never had cancer. I'll know what I had to go through to beat him."
Seth's hospital room walls were covered with get well cards and posters. The spaces not filled with medical equipment, overflowed with gifts. Laying there in deep pain that no medication seemed to help, Seth was still blessed with his odd subtle humor. He would say things like, "Dad, having cancer stinks." In his voice and eyes, you knew that this was more than a simple statement of fact. This was more than a plea for help. Seth knew he was making a little joke in the understatement. Seth expected to survive. If he could have, he later would have added, "Dieing from cancer really stinks." And yet, with a sheepish grin, he would now say, "You know, having my name on all of these trophies is kind of cool."
On Valentine's Day, in spite of crippling pain and powerful medication, Seth summoned the desperate strength to guide his parents to make Valentine's cards for his sisters. With the cards made, Seth seemed to find some brief peace. Seth must have understood what was in store for him. He needed to help prepare his parents. An hour later he said, "Mom, I talked to Jesus. I's not good." That evening, as his mother held him, he stopped breathing; his heart stopped beating. Emergency response was very quick, his heart was started and breath, with assistance, was restored. For three weeks Seth lay in a coma. He left us on March 10th, 2002.
As Seth's family, we know this tournament is being played to honor Seth. It's a chance to share in the passion that soccer inspired in him and the joy it provided for him. But for us it is so much more. This tournament is an opportunity for us to give something to the coaches and teammates and families that have given so much to us. During his illness, Seth's teammates, their parents and their brothers and sisters sent cards and gifts, and made countless visits to the hospital. With each visit they brought hope, inspiration, and love. Just as Seth's ordeal was our life, it was their life, too. In their caring and in their sharing, they have become our family. A particular mention is needed for Seth's coaches. Near the end, as Seth lay in a coma in intensive care, they each asked to stay the night with Seth. On the following mornings, in each of their eyes, we knew that they shared with us the fear of approaching loss.
It is our deepest prayer for each player in this tournament and for each proud parent, grandparent, brother, and sister to know the honor of these games is not just to our son and brother. The honor belongs to the Kolping team and club, to the players and families that made such a difference, not just on the field, but in the life of a mere boy and his grateful family.
From the family of the coach, the teacher, and the father that might have been, thank you. Clark, Ruth, Cara, Kayla, and Seth The Stevens
Kolping Seth Stevens Memorial
Ron Hughes - Tournament Director (513) 259-8584
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