Sports

Etched in Stone: Tribute at Tatlock Honors Rock of Summit Lacrosse

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Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
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Credits: Greg Elliott / TAPinto Summit
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When they built you brother
they turned this dust to gold
When they built you brother
they broke the mold

They say you can't take it with you
but I think that they're wrong
All I know's I woke up this morning
and something big was gone
 
- 'Bruce Springsteen
"Terry's Song"
SUMMIT, NJ - As annual rites of spring go in the Hilltop City, few are as widely anticipated as the start of lacrosse season. The town's legacy of excellence in the sport, on both the girls and boys sides and at myriad age levels, is a big part of the Summit community.

The leading, and highest profile, edges of this dynamic are the girls and boys Summit High School lacrosse programs, each built on talent, passion, respect and teamwork. Their individual and collective success, and that of the young women and men who play -- or have competed -- for the Maroon & White, is a key ingredient of "Summit Pride."

So, when high school lacrosse practices commence at the high school, excitement begins to build as Hilltopper faithful count down the days until the onset of the regular season.

This year, however, things were different. Something was missing. Something big -- in ways literal, figurative, and spiritual -- indeed was missing.



That something is a someone. Someone who became known for his coaching acumen, his infectious enthusiasm, his positive reinforcement, his respect and passion for the game, his humanity, and for his love of his family and life in general.

That someone is former Summit High School Boys Varsity Assistant Coach Kyle Kirst, the larger-than-life personality who brought boundless amounts of what he called "mojo" to everything he touched and everyone he met. Kirst, a member of the coaching staff for a decade, tragically passed away last June and perhaps -- as the ultimate testament to his life -- has had his loss felt by many groups and communities, one of which is, of course, Summit Lacrosse.

When he passed, tributes poured in from those whose lives he touched, including players he coached; students he taught, coaches he faced; and teammates with whom he played along side.
 
Fittingly, the New Jersey Lacrosse Hall of Fame recently inducted Kirst into its Hall of Fame, Class of 2015.
 
But how best for Summit to honor Coach Kirst, to pay tribute in a way that was befitting of a man who gave so much, so often, to so many?

In an effort driven by the Summit Men's Lacrosse Alumni Association, working in cooperation with the Summit Department of Community Programs, a granite boulder now sits in Tatlock Park, outside the field house, on the walkway leading toward Investors Bank Field. On one side of the the rock, the following is engraved:
 
In honor of
KYLE KIRST
 
An Inspirational Coach
A Valued Educator and
A Caring Friend to All
"... Always a Hilltopper"
 
On the other side is etched one simple word: MOJO, the touchstone part of Kirst's famous saying of "That's the Mojo," a phrase he would gleefully pronounce whenever one of his boys would use the combination of preparation and motivation to create a successful moment and outcome for the team. 

According to geology.com, "Granite is hard enough to resist most abrasion, strong enough to bear significant weight, inert enough to resist weathering, and it accepts a brilliant polish."
 
Sounds like a fitting substance was chosen, and a fitting tribute made, to honor a transcendent individual.

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