Since today is the 15th, it only seems right to devote today’s entry to Kirk Urso. The rookie midfielder suddenly and tragically passed away on August 5, 2012, due to an undetected congenital heart defect. The Columbus Crew community continues to honor Urso to this day. The club’s foundation awards annual scholarships to academy players in Kirk’s memory. The first team gives out the Kirk Urso Heart Award each year to the player that best exemplifies Kirk’s qualities as a teammate and as the heart of the locker room. Fans honor Kirk through banners or by visiting (and sometimes leaving small gifts) at his memorial rock in Founder’s Park at the front of the stadium. People have also bought and read my book Kirk Urso: Forever Massive, which captures Kirk’s impact in Columbus and raises scholarship and heart health money for the Crew Foundation. Also, the Crew community has remained a source of friendship and solace for the Urso family over six years after Kirk’s passing.
During the relocation saga, if I ever wanted to go to my angry place, I would think of how one man stealing the Crew and taking them to Austin would feel to the Ursos.
Thankfully, these are now happier times in Crewville. With the news that the Crew have been officially saved, I reached out to Kirk’s family: mother Sandy, father Mike, brother Kyle, and sister-in-law Erica, for their thoughts so I could include Kirk in this series.
Here’s some of what they had to say…except for Kirk’s 18-month-old nephew Kaiden, who was unavailable for comment.
On the uncertainty of the previous 15 months:
Kyle Urso: The first I heard of it, I was like, “Oh, man.” I just thought that the cards were lining up against them staying. I tried not to think about it too much because I didn’t know what would happen with Kirk’s memory and keeping his legacy and that type of thing. You know, the scholarships they award in Kirk’s memory and things like that. I didn’t really like to think about it because it was just one more thing gone.
But when you start seeing all of the social media stuff and people caring like crazy about the team, it’s like maybe they have a chance. That helped a little a bit and I was thinking it would be really nice if they pulled this off and keep what the Crew have for Kirk’s memory alive.
Sandy Urso: I remember Mike said to me that with the fans the Crew have, it would be a travesty to lose the team.
Erica Urso: When someone passes, the only things that remain are memories and a legacy left from a life worth living. Kirk made his mark on Columbus and the Crew and preserving that is essential not just to us, but to anyone who was touched by Kirk and his infectious personality.
On the Crew being 100% officially saved:
Sandy Urso: I am over the moon about the Crew being saved. Not just saved, but looking to be even better than ever. The family feeling is back and I wish we could have been around to share in all the recent announcements and activities.
Kyle Urso: It’s hard to put into words. I’m happy for the city. This is something that the fanbase really wanted. They put a lot of work in and a lot of time and their own money to keep it going and to keep it alive and to let everybody know what they were still interested. And then for the Haslam and Edwards families that are stepping in as owners, I mean, I’m biased because I’m a soccer fan, but I think they made the right move. The city is proud of the club. The club has been doing well and I think they will continue to do well, especially hearing about the new stadium and all that. And I think it’s good for MLS too. It would have been really sad had it turned out the other way.
Mike Urso: So glad to hear that things are working out for the players and the fans. The Crew is Columbus.
On the success of the fan-led #SaveTheCrew movement:
Kyle Urso: I’m so far away and removed from what the fanbase is really doing and I don’t have as much time on social media to keep in touch, so when I saw everything like the meeting at City Hall, it was pretty impressive.
Sandy Urso: The story of #SaveTheCrew is unbelievable. The persistence and belief of all those involved were incredible. It is priceless. We felt included throughout the process and have our #SaveTheCrew scarves as a constant reminder of what a difference people can make.
Erica Urso: Saving the Crew was a movement I know Kirk would have led if he were alive. I’m so happy that the people of Columbus stood up passionately to preserve their own “heart” of Columbus.
On Dr. Pete’s emphasis on #CrewFamily in a community that has already shown the Ursos much love:
Mike Urso: Words can’t explain the way I feel when you all want to include Kirk in the various events that the Crew has.
Sandy Urso: Having Dr. Pete step up the way he did with such passion and joy in the process is not only a gift to all of us, but knowing he knew Kirk adds a special place in our hearts. I hope Kirk continues to be remembered as an important part of the Crew and soccer. I can also already see the difference in the news coming from the Crew and the personalization it now has. Good things are on the way. Thank you to all who kept the Crew in Columbus!
On the future:
Kyle Urso: Now that we’ve got Kaiden and another on the away, to know that the Crew are staying, I can look forward to bringing them to a Crew game. That’s going to be a super-emotional step that I am looking forward to.
It used to really make me sad and angry to think that Kaiden would have an uncle he’ll never meet who played for a team that wouldn’t exist. The very idea was a heartbreaking nesting doll of ghosts.
For everyone who played even the tiniest role in saving the Columbus Crew, know that this little guy, and Kyle and Erica’s future children, will be able to come to Columbus, experience our black & gold community, and cheer on the club for which Uncle Kirk played.
In the grand scheme of things, it may not mean much. But it will also mean everything.
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A MASSIVE SEASON is now available as an ebook.