I would like to dedicate my first blog to the memory of a great friend of mine and of Harvard Hockey, Chris Traverse. My first memory of “Mr. T” was from my sophomore year at Harvard. I remember seeing him after every game in our parents and players lounge – I could tell he really didn’t know anybody and didn’t want to get in anybody’s way. He had been invited in by one of our parents who had known him; his daughter had gone to Harvard the year prior and had been friends with a couple of girls on the team. I had decided to go up to him and introduce myself, and right off the bat I knew Mr. T and me were going to be pals. And we were. After that first meeting I found myself dying to get up to the lounge to talk to Mr. T and hear his thoughts on the game in that familiar Boston accent of his. Everything was always positive of course, and he definitely did a great job at making me feel like I had played a much better game than I thought I did. It wasn’t long before Mr. T had developed strong bonds with the rest of the girls on the team. Oh, and how could I forget Mr. T’s favorite accessory, the cowbell… Yes, he was that guy. Every home game, and many away ones as well, I knew he was in the stands the second we stepped on the ice and heard that cowbell roar. What I normally considered such an irritating sound had become completely motivational and somewhat comforting. “Oh, Mr. T’s here, better make this a good one.” He was just the best. And our team absolutely loved the guy.
It wasn’t until my junior year when we all found out that Mr.T had just been diagnosed with ALS. I can’t really recall my exact emotion upon finding out. I knew ALS was a horrible disease, but didn’t quite understand the severity of it. And we all thought Mr. T was going to beat it of course. He played it off so well, he was so strong and still the same Mr. T I had always known. He sure didn’t make it seem like it was dragging him down, and I refused to believe it was either. Slowly that year, you could see Mr. T physically regressing. But he was still there for every game, swinging that cowbell in the stands with that same smile on his face. Every game I found myself wanting to play for him. At the end off every home game, our team would line up in the center of the ice and bang our sticks to show our appreciation for our fans. Each time I pointed my stick right at Mr. T. And there he was ringing that cowbell right back at me every time.
Unfortunately on Monday, November 3rd 2014, after a two-year hard fought battle, Mr. T passed. He had battled it as hard as he could until the end. ALS is an absolutely devastating disease; I hated seeing someone as special, remarkable and selfless as Mr. T having his life taken from him by such a horrible disease. One of the last times I saw Mr. T, he was able to mouth the words to me “head up, stick down”- I’ll never forget it. He was always great at giving advice and saying the right thing. I always had this vision of Mr. T being in the stands my senior year ringing that cowbell, and on senior night having him come down with my family to ice level. Because that was what he was, family. He had become such an important part of my life at Harvard, and I will always thank him for making my experience here far more incredible and memorable. And even though Mr. T has passed on, I know he’ll still be there every Friday and Saturday night watching over us, every step of the way.