In Memorium: Taylor Shane Ward

Saturday night I learned of the tragic passing of one of the great lights in the hockey world.

Taylor Ward, 19, from Vacaville, Calif., was injured in a car accident near Pocatello, Idaho. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was placed on life support. He was pronounced dead on Wednesday night.

I will always remember Taylor as the best teammate I’ve ever had. We played together in the Vacaville Adult Hockey League along with his father, Trevor, and his younger brother, Brandon. What set Taylor apart from everyone else was his attitude.

Adult hockey has plenty of people who couldn’t care less about their teammates or the other team. They want to score goals and win games and to hell with the feelings of everyone else. The sad truth for many is that there is a reason we’re in adult hockey. Our skills are not at a level where we can have an attitude.

Taylor had every right to be that player, but even as teenager playing in a league with 30 and 40-somethings (and older) he understood that the game should be fun for everyone on the ice. He went out of his way to make it fun.

He never tried to score 100 goals. He would rather set up a teammate and see the joy on his or her face when they scored. There were a few players, like me during the few seasons we played against each other, that he felt no shame in challenging 1-on-1, but he never took that as an opportunity to embarrass or humiliate. Sometimes he’d even skate up to you after the play and tell you what to do to prevent that from happening.

Taylor always had the brightest smile at the rink. He enjoyed being there and being around his friends and teammates. He loved the game of hockey as much as any person I’ve ever met. But I’ve learned that he loved something else even more.

Taylor was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This quote appeared on another blog:

“I left home for the first time in my life and even went to a different country to try to fulfill my dream of going and playing in the NHL as a pro. But while I was there The Lord told me that I needed to go back home and go on a mission even though it was only half way through the season. Now a lot of people especially my teammates and coaches from past teams have asked why I would give up on that dream especially when I had a good shot of making it. My answer is because the Lord has called me to do this marvelous work and I dare not miss this glorious opportunity that will allow me to come closer to god and allow others to come closer to him as well.” -Elder Taylor Ward

Taylor wasn’t afraid to give up his dreams to serve others. He wasn’t afraid to listen to that still, small voice calling him to something greater than himself.

In today’s western culture there are so few shining lights who stand out. Taylor was one of them. He was always happy with what he had. He was always willing to work hard to improve himself, and he used his talents to make everyone around him better.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Ward family, and with all who knew Taylor. He will be sorely missed.


Posted on September 8, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Joe Rutkowski Head coach Oakland Bears U18

    Hi Bryan,
    I was Taylor’s coach during the 5 years he served as Captain of the Vacaville Jets teams he played on. Thank you for your moving and evocative tribute to the lasting spirit and memory of this kind young man who enriched the lives of everyone who had the good fortune to know him . In your description of Taylor’s caring and helpful nature you capture the essence of what set Taylor apart and made him so special.

    Taylor never failed to find it in himself to care about the people around him and freely shared of his strengths and talents with whomever he met. We all benefited from the gift he made of himself by his commitment to serving the needs of others and especially his faith above all else.

    It’s exceedingly rare among today’s youth to find people as young and ambitious as Taylor was, who possess the self confidence to journey on a mission that takes them far from their family and friends in pursuit of their dreams.

    Taylor’s parents have asked me to serve as a pall bearer and honor the memory of their son by assisting them in the ceremony of laying him to rest. I’m hoping that you will be able to attend the funeral and that we might have an opportunity to come together and reminisce about our dear friend Taylor Ward.

  2. Thank you for this article. I am Taylor’s auntie. I’m so glad to see such a beautiful article. Taylor had an amazing testimony and we are finding strength in knowing that he completed his mission on earth. He proved all he needed to.. And now, he is with our Heavenly Father serving a new mission.

  3. Thank you, for the kind words you hav showmen to us! Our family wants to thank you!


  4. Joe, I would have loved to be there, but unfortunately found out the details too late.

    Amanda and Deidre, I thank you both for the kind comments. I always enjoyed playing with Taylor. I’ve made my return to the Vacaville Adult league this year after being away at school, and am dedicating the season to Taylor’s memory. He enjoyed being on the ice and went out of his way to make the game fun for everyone. I hope I can imitate his attitude and honor his memory.

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