John Ferguson fabricated assertive to allocution with Travis Roy every brace of weeks. The aftermost time was Oct. 21. It was a Wednesday, eight canicule afore one of the best adorning athletes that New England and all of hockey has accepted died at age 45.
“He larboard me a bulletin as I was accepting off the avenue in Bridgeport,” Ferguson said. “I said, ‘What’s up?’ We consistently joked around. Always. Afterward, I said to my wife, ‘Lisa, doesn’t complete good.’ But he was still upbeat. Still upbeat.”
Ferguson had met Roy in Boston through his abutting associate Chris Drury, and their own accord had blossomed over added than a division century. With Drury skating 10 anxiety away, Roy’s hockey career at Boston University concluded in 1995 afterwards alone 11 seconds. Founded by Michael and John Ferguson forth with John’s wife, Lisa Fedek, who accomplish Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport, and the Drury brothers, the Travis Roy Foundation Invitational Golf Clash would aftermost 12 years and accession about $700,000.
“We were actual close,” Ferguson said, “very, actual close.”
Ferguson warned that he ability get afraid up and afresh he went on to acquaint the adventure of how he; Roy, bedfast to his wheelchair; and Roy’s dad took a flight out to Denver to see Chris Drury comedy his aboriginal NHL bold for the Colorado Avalanche. Drury had pitched Trumbull to the Little League World Series title, won the Hobey Baker Accolade at BU as college’s outstanding player, and would go on to win a Stanley Cup a few years later. This was Oct. 10, 1998. Bold 1 on Drury’s way to the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year.
“Travis admirable Chris,” Ferguson said. “On the base end of Chris’ stick, he consistently put Travis’ number: 24. They had a appropriate bond.”
“Not a day goes by that I don’t anticipate of Travis Roy,” Drury, who affably beneath an interview, told The New York Times a cardinal of years ago.
Drury alleged Roy his inspiration. Roy would say he lived his dreams through Drury, now a affiliate of the Rangers’ advanced appointment and the Hartford Wolf Pack accepted manager.
“Just the added night,” Ferguson said, “Trav says to me, ‘Fergy, bethink how we went out there?’ I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, Trav.’ … ‘And we had that steak dinner?’ That’s 20 years ago. I don’t bethink what happened 20 abnormal ago. He goes, ‘That was the best.’
“That kid, 25 years in a wheelchair. He was never down. He aloof went aback into the hospital. And we didn’t allocution again.”
Drury alleged Ferguson the day Roy died of complications from actuality a quadriplegic for a division century. Ferguson collection home to acquaint Lisa and afresh alleged Roy’s dad, Lee. John larboard a bulletin how apologetic they were.
“One hour afterwards I alleged his father, he alleged back,” Ferguson said. “You apperceive what he said? ‘Don’t be sorry. Travis is free. He’s skating in the sky appropriate now.’
“Wow. I’m cogent you, he affected a lot of people.”
It was a Friday night in 1994. Roy, a Maine kid with a shock of albino hair, was still a chief at Tabor Academy and actuality recruited by BU. Ferguson was up to adhere out with Drury. Recruits commonly appointment for a day or two, break with the freshmen, see what the school, what the campus, what the affairs is all about.
“I absolved into the old amphitheatre and he says, ‘Are you Fergy? I’m Travis,’” Ferguson said. “I go, ‘That’s good.’ We all went out for pizza afterward.”
Lee Roy played at Vermont. Maine capital Travis. He chose BU.
“A year later, I was at Wonderland of Ice, was addition Friday night,” Ferguson said. “A guy I apperceive came in and said, ‘Did you see that play?’ I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s the kid I went out for pizza with.’”
Oct. 20, 1995; BU aloft their civic championship banderole that night at Walter Brown Amphitheatre and 4,000 admirers awash the place. Two account into the game, aboriginal about-face of his career, Roy was on the forecheck and went to hit North Dakota’s Mitch Vig abreast the corner. Roy glanced off Vig and the BU apprentice from Yarmouth, Maine, went headfirst into the rear boards. He landed face bottomward to the ice. Roy absurd his fourth and fifth vertebrae, bedridden from the close down. Eventually, he would achieve some use of his appropriate arm.
Sports admirers in New England, hockey admirers everywhere were shaken. I bethink walking into the Whalers’ locker allowance as the players batten agilely about it. Everyone was shaken.
“I accept announced to best of the players who were there that night and they all were affected consistently by what happened,” Ferguson said.
The way Roy paid it advanced aback he could accept wallowed in the past, of course, is the cilia of legend. His foundation, which will continue, has aloft added than $19 actor for survivors of analgesic bond injuries and for aeroembolism research. Roy became a active apostle and able motivational speaker. BU would accolade him an honorary doctorate to bless his life’s work.
The anniversary golf clash at Race Brook Country Club in Orange that went on for a dozen years became an important fundraising basic of Roy’s Foundation. It drew acclaimed hockey players and coaches from the region. It was a agitating affair.
“Between me, Lisa, and Michael, our phones accept been alarming up with bodies that I haven’t apparent or heard from as far aback as the aboriginal tournament,” Ferguson said. “Trav affected so abounding lives.
“Hey, we alike had the Monkees one year.”
The “I’m a Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville” Monkees?
“Yes,” Ferguson said. “Race Brook was adjustment one year, so aggregate was outside. The guy we knew, Jerry Renino, who has passed, was their agreeable administrator and played hockey. He goes, ‘I’m activity to get the Monkees.’ Sure enough, the Monkees showed. One of the hockey parents sponsored them. We aloft added money. Aback Travis was there bodies emptied their pockets.”
And Travis was there all 12 years.
“He consistently kept busy,” Ferguson said. “We’re in the ice skating business, and I could alarm him two in the morning or two in the afternoon. He never had a problem. It would be, ‘C’mon, what can I do?’”
Ferguson visited Roy at his abode on the basin in Vermont and at his accommodation in Boston. With canonizing casework delayed until COVID-19 clears, he will appointment Roy’s parents in the abutting few weeks. Wonderland of Ice continues to accelerate a aggregation to the Roy Foundation’s Wiffle Ball Clash anniversary summer in Vermont. The accident is captivated area Little Fenway, Little Wrigley and Little Fields are built.
No one who knew Travis Roy would be afraid if he came walking out of that acreage of blah with that shock of albino hair. Or bigger yet skating.
“Travis will consistently be in our hearts,” John Ferguson said. “His bequest is not activity to be forgotten.”
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