Hockey players and coaches participating in this weekend’s annual Shaun Crosby Memorial Hockey Tournament in Kelowna may not know about the young hockey player the tournament is named after.
It’s been 25 years since Kelowna-born Shaun Crosby passed away in a car accident while traveling with his family towards Calgary.
But for the parents of the fun-loving nine-year-old, the annual hockey tournament in Shaun’s name is a yearly trip down memory lane they are thankful to have.
“I look forward to it every year,” said Shaun’s dad, Les, this week prior to the start of the peewee house league tournament in his son’s name. “It’s 25 years since he passed away and I expect a lot of people now don’t remember Shaun. But once people find out and see us there at the rink some people come and talk. Others they don’t know what to say and I understand that. But we are open to talk about him at anytime. He’s still alive in our hearts and we don’t ever want to forget him. We never will.”
Mom Maureen said the tournament has helped to alleviate the couple’s fears in the years since the passing of their son.
“Our biggest fear was the he would be forgotten,” she said. “But this tournament has helped keep Shaun’s memory alive. We still see people that played hockey with him.”
Shaun Crosby was a typical nine-year-old: He played hockey, soccer and baseball. In hockey, his dad was his coach every year he played. He had a playful nature, joking one summer with his father that he no longer wanted to play hockey, until the pair ran into the president of minor hockey and Shaun declared that he was joking all along and would play another year.
“He turned to me and said ‘I got you,'” recalled Les with a chuckle. “He always had a smile on his face. You could tell when he was joking because he would get a great big smile and walk away. That’s one thing we remember him by was his great big smile.”
He also made an impact on friends, even at a young age. Shaun’s best friend in Grade 4 was a girl, who for 20 years after his passing would come to visit Les and Maureen, even bringing her first-born child to introduce to the Crosbys.
“We were so honoured that someone would do that in his memory,” said Les. “Shaun was a character. He was well-liked. I remember one year at the tournament a parent came up to me to shake my hand. He said I coached him and he had played with Shaun and now his son was in this tournament. It just brought back so many memories. It’s so enjoyable to have someone come and say that they remember Shaun.”
This weekend, when 20 pee wee house league teams gather in Kelowna to take part in the annual Shaun Crosby tournament, they will sport helmet decals in Shaun’s honour and play for a tournament plaque with Shaun’s picture on it. They may not know the player the tournament is named after, but hopefully there are many big smiles at the rink, much the way Shaun used to smile.
Les and Maureen Crosby will be there, remembering their son.
“I tell people that if I start to cry it’s OK,” said Les. “It’s good news, not bad news. It’s good to have a cry for him. It means he is still in our hearts.”
The 18th annual Shaun Crosby Memorial Tournament begins Friday and continues until Sunday at the Rutland Arena.