Remembering Kai Matthews

Remembering Kai Matthews

 

 

Remembering Kai...

 

Kai entered the HCU family as a shy, serious youngster. Yet from his first steps on the field it was apparent that he was a natural athlete, that he loved soccer and that he was right at home. This proved to be true, as on any given day for more than a decade, an onlooker would likely see a blond boy, wearing a yellow #13 jersey, crunching across the parking lot in his cleats toward the field, his water bottle clanking against his thigh.

Kai’s natural habitat seemed to be outdoors, running across the pitch with the sunlight reflecting off his blond hair. His presence was a fixture in all the soccer venues, and at all the HCU tournaments, from the mercurial temperatures of Mainland Commons to the leafy canopies of Kings Edgehill, and from the pastures of PEI to the pizzazz of Montreal. Kai was always there, ready to go!  

In the course of his developmental years, one of Kai’s soccer dreams was fulfilled when, during his world travels, he had the opportunity to participate in a camp at the Liverpool Ainsfield Club training grounds in England. This experience ignited his passion yet further, as he was inspired by this monumental venue.

Kai’s return from abroad seemed to start a new chapter as, in the blink of an eye, the quiet young boy had spurted into a tall, broad-shouldered confident Viking. In addition to his trademark blond hair, he could now be recognized by his rapid, long strides. Best known as a winger, Kai put in the legwork for his team. Whether on an offensive break or tracking back, Kai seemed to cover distance in record time, outpacing his opponents. Astonishingly, he also appeared to have unending reserves of energy. This trait was most evident during tournament weekends. Despite running full-out for an hour and half, Kai would use his time between games to do some skateboarding or BMX biking before the next game, during which he would outrun his opponents for another 90 minutes. 

Kai was an all-in player no matter what the game, division or circumstance. He had a competitive spirit, and a well-developed work ethic. He was a “put your head down and get it done” kind of player. No matter the outcome, when the game was over, you would see Kai loping off the field in good spirits with his teammates. 

From the onset Kai exhibited a laid-back confidence which attracted friends and established his position as a quiet leader. He had presence and confidence. He was someone who would look you straight in the eye, give you a firm handshake and direct response. He was thoughtful and polite; he would pick up the extra bag of equipment and help carry it to the car, and when catching a ride would say ‘thank you’ every time. When congratulated on a particularly good game, he’d flash that special bashful smile and there would be a sparkle in his eye. 

It is that sparkle and that magnetism that will forever define Kai. He was the winger that you wanted on your team and the wingman that you wanted as a friend. He played with intensity, passion and purpose. And there he will remain in our hearts, streaking down the field looking ahead, chasing opportunity, while his feet, indeed, take flight.

 

The Matthew's Family have created an annual award in memory of Kai. 

Donations to this fund can be made by sending an email transfer to kaimemorial@hcusoccer.ca.