To our Alliance family:
We are all at a loss for words and the sadness we are feeling is overwhelming. Our thoughts and prayers are with Cheryl and Hunter, McKenna’s sister McKinley and brother MacCallum, her family, friends and her extended hockey family.
McKenna Brown played for the Alliance, along with many other HS clubs and programs. That’s how we met each other, at the rink. Parents with daughters all looking for a sense of belonging in a boy dominated sport. McKenna, never one for fear, decided way back she is going to be a Goalie. And a good one at that. One look at her face, told you if she had a great game or was doing everything she could to not cry over the feeling of letting her team down. Having goalies in the family, they are unique, there is something about goalies that is undeniably different. McKenna stood out, on skates, she towered over most boys. She stood as last defense against teams that did everything they could to beat her, she stood her ground. When the call was made to play, she did so happily, with excitement and confidence.
We need to back up a bit. As important as hockey was to her and her to us as a player. When you see someone special for the first time, there are telltale signs to their gifts they leave the world. For McKenna, it is her smile, her eyes. That was the first appearance and a mighty first impression at that. As special as her smile is, the real beauty was everything that made her who she was to so many people. She always had a remedy for sorrow, pain or bad days, she had the ability to hug and to reason with us to why things would be ok. For the years we have know her, all she ever asked for was… “Are you done with those fries” or “that pancake is looking awful lonely, I can fix that” and everytime we parted ways there was always “Toodles”.
That was Kenna, her actions were simple, kind, and reassuring. She was human, with all of our short coming and strengths, there is no denying her ability to make anyone feel at home. We have watched her time and time again console her teammates, she had no boundries consoling her competitors. She cared for everyone before herself. As Coaches, you cant help but take notice of such actions.
We think of how Kenna was a daughter to us, a sister to our kids, our younger players. We think of all the travels together, the frequent stops at gas stations for bags full of vitals, you know, chips, chocolate and anything with caffeine or sugar to wash it down, and a satisfying burp for dessert. There were countless times to the hockey version of Tetris. How are we going to stuff 4 players, a goalie, and gear in a pathfinder? Well, you take care of the goalie first, often resulting in leg pads in laps. You have to be big or go home with anything goalie related. This was true of Kenna as well.
We ask that you take the time to love each other and to do wellness checks on each other. We ask that you explain to your family that suicide is a long-term solution to a short-term problem. We cant imagine the grief, anger, and fear that everyone is experiencing, there is no closing to this story and that is the problem. The best way we know to honor Kenna is to share her and her story. We need to heal, forgive and seek purpose to fighting an illness that has such terrible consequences.
We love you dearly McKenna.
For more information and to donate:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
(800) 273-TALK or (800) SUICIDE
Crisis Text Line – Text NAMI to 741-741
BU CTE Brain Bank
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention