The jersey of the late Aldergrove hockey player Coleton Nelson, who practically “grew up on the ice,” his mother said, was retired on Sunday during a public ceremony.
Immortalized in glass and hung on the Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre (ACUCC) rink wall, the peewee jersey #10 – will to all who play for the Aldergrove Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) – henceforth be a reminder of a 12-year-old who “lived and breathed hockey.”
It was during a ceremony that Brenda Nelson – who lost Coleton in a car accident on Feb. 18, 2011 – spoke to a large crowd amassed in front of his framed black, yellow, and white jersey.
“A parent’s worst nightmare is to lose a child. A grieving parent’s worst nightmare is that they will be forgotten,” the mother explained to hockey coaches, players, and parents in attendance.
Retiring the jersey, “is one more step in letting the world know our child existed. And just who he truly was and will forever be.”
Brenda recalls her blonde boy as a beautiful mess – “he wore what he wanted and never cared what people thought,” she told the Aldergrove Star.
For his celebration of life, the Nelson family asked those attending “to dress like they were going to a game – it is what he would have wanted. It was him,” mom said.
Coleton’s jersey is the first to be hung on the walls of the newly-built ACUCC arena.
Its permanent relocation is the result of an eight-year delay to commemorate the young player.
The mother initially asked the hockey association to retire Coleton’s jersey just after his passing, but was initially told “no” due to financial reasons, she recounted.
AMHA board member Lindsay Thorley, was the one who garnered support from the Langley Township and the rest of the association to make it happen.
“For a lady that never met my husband and I – or Coleton for that matter – you have gone above and beyond for my family and our son,” Brenda told her.
In June, the rest of the AMHA board members agreed unanimously that Coleton deserved a permanent spot on the walls of the ACUCC hockey rink.
On Sunday, Thorley suited up eight recipients of the annual Coleton Nelson Love of the Game scholarship – which Brenda and her husband Wayne fund every year for players who exhibit that same passion for the sport – in #10 jerseys.
The hockey players walked up the arena steps and in front of Brenda, her husband Wayne, and their daughter Chrystie – who losr her 19-month-old son Ryker Mcclurg on the fifth anniversary of Coleton’s accident.
AMHA midget team’s C1 and C2 players also wore their jerseys, and full gear, as they skated onto the rink and lined up in tribute to Coleton near the end of the dedication. It was a moment of silence for the family, most of who were in tears.
Applause roared as the teens slapped their sticks on the ice, breaking the silence.
“They say that from something so horrible brings something good. You all are the good,” Brenda said to those gathered, “it truly does take a village and all of your are our village; our people; and the most amazing friends this grieving family could have.”
“For this, his death was not in vain – ‘to live in the heart of those you love is never to die’,” Brenda said while shaking.
Coleton would have been 21 this year.