Jamie Trimboli honors memory of fallen teammate by wearing a calf band

first_imgGetting ready for his game on Feb. 7, 2012, a 13-year-old Jamie Trimboli searched for pink tape to match his uniform. He wanted to put it around his calf and write the name of his friend who couldn’t be there that night.The Trimbolis didn’t have pink tape, but his sister had a pink headband. So Trimboli took it, wrapped it around his calf and wrote “Tyler Kopp” on it.Every player in that game added “TK” stickers to the back of their helmets, and some put tape on their chin straps with “TK9” or “I <3 TK9” on it. Others had his initials on their jerseys.They were ready to play in honor of their fallen teammate. Together. That night, Trimboli scored a goal and pointed toward the sky, where he believed Tyler was looking down on him. As he jogged off the field, the pink headband stayed firmly wrapped around his calf.“I just wanted to do something for him,” Trimboli said. “And I did. Then I just stuck with it.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSix years later, Trimboli still honors his fallen teammate. He also added meaning to the band this summer, when his uncle was diagnosed with cancer. It’s no longer a pink headband, but a white, elastic band. There are no name or initials on it anymore, but that doesn’t matter. Wearing the calf band has become a ritual for Trimboli, assuring him that every time he takes the field for Syracuse, Tyler is with him.Courtesy of Joe TrimboliEverything seemed normal as the Pink Flamingos, Trimboli’s club lacrosse team, played on Feb. 2, 2012. Trimboli stood on the sidelines, watching as his team defended a man down. An opponent rifled a shot toward the cage, but it never made it there. Instead, the shot smacked Tyler’s chest. The ball ricocheted away, and play continued as the 12-year-old Tyler dropped to the ground. He couldn’t get up or move. He just laid there.The whistle blew, stopping play, and head coach Dan Merola ran onto the field to check on Tyler. Players dropped to their knees while the parents looked on from the side in silence. The opposing team’s coach followed behind and joined Merola. But once he reached the two, Merola looked up, scared.“I need help,” Merola said to the opposing coach.An ambulance was called, and the players were taken off the field. Tyler’s mom tried to talk to her son, to get anything out of him. A teammate’s mom, who was a volunteer EMT, ran onto the field and yelled for her husband to get her equipment from the car. Everyone watched in silence as she attended to Tyler.When the EMTs arrived, a defibrillator bounced Tyler’s motionless body off the ground. But he never woke up. The EMTs tried again. And again. But nothing worked.The kids and parents stood by the railings, watching as Tyler lay on the field being treated. Soon after, Tyler was strapped onto a stretcher and rushed to the hospital.Four days later, Tyler was taken off life support. Each of the 19 players on the Pink Flamingos were taken out of school and brought to Merola’s house. The kids sat in one room quietly while their parents talked in another. The team’s next game was later that night, and most parents thought it should be canceled.Joe Trimboli, Jamie’s dad, offered a solution: let the kids vote. Each teammate was handed a small piece of paper, where they either wrote “yes” or “no” to playing in the game. The responses were collected in a hat before it was opened in front of the parents and kids.One by one, every piece was opened, and one by one, every piece had the same answer.“It made the process easier moving forward,” teammate Dylan Joy said. “Because we had a group of guys (close) together.”The team played against Penfield, a team the Pink Flamingos had struggled with in the past, teammate Alexx Brown said. The Pink Flamingos won the opening faceoff and scored right away. Then, Trimboli scored back-to-back goals. That’s when he pointed up to Tyler, who he knew was looking down on him.Courtesy of Joe TrimboliTwo days later, hundreds of people came to the funeral home to pay their respects to Tyler. Among them were Joe and Trimboli. Tyler’s mom, Julie, pulled the pair aside.Trimboli and Tyler were from different towns, joining forces on a club team that sported sixth, seventh and eighth graders. The Pink Flamingos played in the junior varsity league, playing with high school athletes, Brown said. Tyler was among the youngest, and most players like Trimboli looked out for him.Julie told Trimboli that Tyler loved him, and that he should never quit lacrosse because of the “freak accident,” Trimboli said. She saw a special talent in him. Trimboli had the potential to dominate. Julie told him that Tyler would be watching over him.“I was shaken by (Tyler’s death),” Joe said, “and I was a man. And here (Jamie) was, not even 14 yet.”The pink headband stretched out during the second game back. The next time Trimboli wore it, it kept sliding off, Joe said. So Trimboli opted for writing “TK9” on medical tape that wouldn’t slide off. But it required him cutting off the tape after every game.Joe was at a sporting goods store looking for lacrosse equipment when he came across an elastic tubular band. It wasn’t normally worn in lacrosse, but it fit the shape of the medical tape Trimboli used each game. He bought one and brought it home to his son. It fit better and simplified the process.Josh Shub-Seltzer | Staff PhotographerTrimboli listened to Julie’s advice from the wake. He never stopped playing. Five years later, on March 25, 2017, Trimboli ran through the tunnel formed by his team, did his pregame handshake and lined up for his first collegiate start.Standing among his new teammates, Trimboli still honored an old one. The white tubular band clung to his calf. Tyler was with him.Trimboli thinks about Tyler’s death every day. The Pink Flamingos still bring up memories of Tyler, whose favorite saying was “This is the best thing ever,” Merola said. It didn’t matter what it was — Tyler would have a smile on his face and do whatever was asked of him. He made an impact on his team, enough for players to try whatever they can to commemorate him. It’s why Trimboli will never stop wearing the calf band.“I always think about him when things aren’t going so well, when things are tough,” Trimboli said. “When you need motivation to keep going.” Comments Published on April 17, 2018 at 9:51 pm Contact Charlie: [email protected] | @charliedisturco Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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