Bri Matthews Memorial Service

BRI MATTHEWS MEMORIAL SERVICE

Memorial service fills softball field with memories, emotions

More than 1,500 friends, teammates help honor the late Mater Dei standout, who died last week.

March 05, 2010 10:10 PM

By CARLOS ARIAS

OCVARSITY.COM


HUNTINGTON BEACH – The softball community came out in a huge show of support for the late Mater Dei High softball star Bri Matthews on Friday afternoon at Huntington Beach Sports Complex.

Approximately 1,500 friends, family, teammates and others showed up at the softball fields where many had competed for years against each other to pay tribute to Matthews, who was found dead at her home last week. She had committed suicide.

High school players and travel ball players wore their uniforms to honor Matthews, who was the OCVarsity.com softball freshman of the year last season. A stage was set up behind second base on the main field and the outfield was filled.

Many of the players got on stage to speak about their memories of Matthews and how she touched their lives.

“It was nice to see everybody out there and how many people’s lives she touched,” Matthews’s mother, Nadia Martinez, said. “It was amazing. I’m so touched and blessed. I think a lot of the kids out there needed that. It was good for the kids to commemorate Bri.

“It’s amazing to know your kid in 16 short years could have that kind of an effect on people. It doesn’t make the loss any easier.

“I never imagined this would happen, but once it did happen I had no idea the amount of support we would get from the Mater Dei family. We went to Mater Dei because we wanted more than the average high school. The outpouring of love from the Mater Dei family has been amazing. I’m speechless. It makes the load a little bit easier.”

“I think it was an expression of love from the softball community to a player people really admired and respected,” said Bill Jackson,who coached Matthews for three years when she was a youngster on the Firecrackers travel ball team.

“Everybody knew Bri. We had her when she was 11. When she was 12 she started to become well known nationwide. She was a very well-known kid and her teammates and people she played with really respected her.

“She carried herself with class. She was heading to a national team. She was a gifted athlete who also worked very hard.”

Said El Modena High coach Steve Harrington: “This young lady has a lot of love and support. There was such a great big turnout. She touched numerous people’s lives. That was just a small snippet of how many people cared for her. I just thought it was a great outpouring of support. It was tremendous.

“It’s a tight-knit family, that Batbusters group. It’s amazing how the softball community rallies and comes together.”

Matthews had committed to attend Arizona, one of the top softball program’s in the nation, and the entire Arizona coaching staff showed up for the memorial.

“When she decided on the University of Arizona she thought she would have a family there and low and behold I guess it’s true,” Martinez said. “They said when you are a Wildcat you are our family forever.

“It’s easy to say you care for someone when dealing with a recruit, but when life hits are they still going to live up to what they said? They didn’t have to be here and they were. I’m blown away.”

Said Canyon High coach Dan Hay, who organized the event: “I thought it was a great tribute to Bri. It was quite an honor to have the softball world there. Everybody showed up in a school uniform or travel ball uniform.”

Martinez was overwhelmed by the support she received.

“I want to give a heart-felt thank you to Dan Hay,” Martinez said. “He put this memorial together from beginning to end. I did not have to lift one finger or pay one cent. … He worked with the city and put the lineup together. He did everything. It’s huge to have somebody like Dan step up. My daughter never played for him.”

Follow Carlos Arias on twitter.com/losocvarsity.com.

AN ESSAY ON LIFE

(SPY publisher Rayburn Hesse could not attend the service (recovering from illness) but prepared the following essay which was read at the service by Dan Hay.)

In writing Meditation, the author John Donne said “No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me…”

From the moment of your birth, the young people gathered here are woven into the fabric of society – and what you choose to do with the precious gift of your life affects us all.  You are not alone on the island of life.

The adults here are parents and coaches – but the bond which binds us is that we are something more profound – we are shepherds.  And, we are here for you.

We are given opportunities to guide you from infancy to adulthood, and hopefully we lead by example – on the ballfield and especially in life.

We are shepherds – and we have lost one of our lambs.

There is a lesson in Bri’s death for you young people.  Each of you knows that suicide causes intense suffering for loved ones.  But, there is another perspective, too frequently lost among today’s youth.  Suicide is not a valid expression of autonomy of choice, because it ends all autonomy and choice.  It represents the tyranny of one moment over every future moment of possibility.

And your future is our concern here today.  Your possibilities know no bounds.

Bri will not come our way again.  We cannot find our lost lamb on this or any field.

But, we can find Bri in our hearts.  Focus not on what problems beset her; focus on what she manifested in her all too short life – a commitment to excellence, a passion for sports, a hunger for a quality education, and dedication to her friends and teams.

Cherish your life with every breath you take.  Embrace your potential, because at your age now your potential is the element which defines you.

Bri had such awesome potential – but it has not been wasted if each of you sets her high academic and athletic standards for yourself.  Mourn her passing, but be like Bri in life.

Bri gave us so much. We are fortunate she came our way.  We wanted more.

Rayburn Hesse

10 thoughts on “Bri Matthews Memorial Service

  1. Ray Chandler

    Thanks…..your words are an inspiration to all in the softball world…good times and the tough times…

    Ray

  2. Dawn R.

    I loved this speech at the memorial and I love reading it now. I was wondering, is there a way to copy and paste it so that the backround is not black?

    Thank you for your amazing words about a wonderful girl.

  3. Rayburn Post author

    Thanks, Dawn. Sorry for the copying/pasting trouble. What are you trying to paste the text into? I tried pasting it into Word just now and it pasted as black text on a white background. I haven’t tried any other programs, though.

  4. sandra

    WELL I KNOW THERES NO WORDS ,I CAN SAY TO MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER.BUT I’M SO DEEPLY SORRY FOR YOUR LOST.I 3 KIDS OF MY OWN AND I CAN,T IMAGINE ME WITH OUT MY KIDS.JUST PRAY TO GOD AND HE WILL HERE YOU ALWAYS.SOOSOSOSOS SORRY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AND ALWAYS REMEMBER SHE WILL ALWAYS BE AROUND YOU.

  5. Amanda

    This is very sad, and my thought’s and prayers go out to Bri’s family and friends.I know the hardest thing is gonna be that your always gonna wanna know why,which is gonna be hard because you may never know that answer. But just remember what a great person she was and also just think about how she is making everyone in heaven laugh and always smile just like she made all of you. SORRY again about your lost……….RIP BRI!!!!

  6. Texasyella

    Such a beautiful and successful young lady…I am so sorry for your loss. The pressures can sometimes become to much…only if someone could have seen the signs. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

  7. Glen Peterson

    Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has a small, dark place inside us where thoughts like this reside. To the mother… do not beat yourself up about it. You could not have stopped it. It’s that darkness inside us all… sometimes it wins out. It was probably only for a few moments that day that something in her life felt unbearable. So this is the result. You may take solace in this one fact though… the fact that your daughter WAS the special person she was has led to this story going national and reaching so many people. You will never know this but I’m sure there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of teens who will read this and her story will save their lives. Many, who also share that tiny dark spot and have also thought about suicide will give life another chance. And that second thought will save many many lives. Your daughter, though an unfathomable loss, will lead to the saving of so many more. God Bless.

  8. JULIA

    SUCH A BEAUTIFUL AND PRETTY GIRL…I CAN NOT IMAGINE HOW TERRIBLE IS LOOSING A CHILD OF YOUR OWN …JUST THINK ABOUT THIS …GOD NEEDS ANGELS TO PROTECT US …AND YOUR LITTLE ANGEL WILL BE WITH U UNTIL GOD DESIDE TO TAKE U SO U CAN BE WITH HER AGAIN..MY PRAYERS FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY..GOD BLESS YOU.

  9. Julie Thigpen

    This is such a tragedy………….being a pitcher of softball for 22 years I feel for the family………….it has it’s pressures………the world has suffered a big loss…..My heart goes out to her family and friends………..May you take comfort in the Love you have for her and know she will always be in your hearts…….

  10. kimberly

    im so so so sorry for ur loss of Bri, i dont know her but from wat all say about her she was a nice sweet happy girl n well loved. My prayers go out to her n her family.i to know wat its like to lose someone to suicde. my cuzin killed himself too.so im sending my prayers to u n hopes oneday u will find peace , may she rest n peace n may see play softball with angels!

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