Travis Comeau’s memories of his friend Jamieson Kuhlmann illustrate a typical Grade 10 student.
“We’d always find something to do, like shaving cream wars,” he smiles. It’s the first time Comeau has smiled since Victoria Day.
“We’d give him like 20 bucks and he’d eat a whole thing of panettone which is like an Italian [cake]. Probably the grossest thing I’ve ever seen. Always a guy, you know, you can always count on to put a smile on your face.”
Even, it seems, in death.
Kuhlmann was an avid lacrosse player in the game of his life: the provincial qualifiers in Newmarket on Monday. But a check from an opposing player sent him into a coma and he never woke up. His parents made the agonizing decision to take him off of life support Thursday.
He died representing the Beaches Lacrosse Team, one of two teams he played for. He was also an integral part of the team at the Hill Academy in Kleinburg, a private school with a focus on sports.
He transferred there after completing Grade 9 at Malvern Collegiate Institute.
“He had a second chance here and he took it and ran with it,” Comeau explains. His voice breaks as he tries to continue.
“That’s something that’s not…it’s not easy to do and it’s something we all need to learn from, and you know, hopefully we can, you know, remember everything he did for us and carry on …” The strain of speaking about his friend is evident in Comeau’s eyes, wet with tears.
“Carry on his memory for the rest of our lives,” he finishes.
Kuhlmann’s commitment to the sport was noted by his coaches, who said it was unusual for a 15-year-old to have such an outstanding record.
“He committed to it. He had high expectations for himself, and he was able to achieve a lot of great things here through his strong attitude and work ethic,” Coach Brodie Merrill noted.
John Steele, VP of the Toronto Beaches Lacrosse Club, looked to the future that had been so cruelly snatched away.
“I’m sure he had dreams of going down to the United States perhaps and looking towards a scholarship, and sadly those dreams have ended,” he said simply.
His family appointed a spokesperson, Peter Gibson, to talk with the media. He said that Kuhlmann’s dedication could be traced to his family’s support and their conduct after his tragic death.
“They’re very concerned about the boys on the other team and the other boy who checked Jamieson,” Gibson explained.
“They want to make sure that he understands that they don’t blame him for this, that they have a lot of compassion and feeling for him and they’re concerned about him. So I think that again that speaks to what they were as a family. They’re a very caring, considerate people,” he continued.
The fatal incident is being reviewed by the Ontario Lacrosse Association. Officials noted that it is still too early to confirm exactly what happened on the field.
The teen’s organs will be donated and a private funeral service will be held for the teen on Monday.