With many moments of glory, there comes a moment of tragedy that may be difficult to comprehend because that small moment of horror can change everything.
When I was nine years old I couldn’t believe that my favorite high school hockey player, Andy Carroll, scored the go-ahead goal in the state championship game for the Roseville Raiders. Then suddenly the camera pointed at his mom who was holding a red flashing goal light as she was jumping for joy that her son ripped the puck through an Anoka defensemen and goaltender’s five-hole. Yes, he scored a double five-hole goal in the state championship game. When I checked Instagram a few days ago, I had found out that he just had passed away at a young 32. That nine-year-old David Zosel looked up to that high school hockey star as if he was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
When you grow up being a high school hockey star like Andy Carroll was, you really don’t have the time or give any conscious effort to build a role modeling relationship with a nine-year-old when you are perceived as a hotshot hockey player. Andy Carroll was not that at all. I am writing about Andy Carroll because he was an absolute Saint. As I am writing this I cannot wrap my head around the question of why do bad things happen to such good people?
It doesn’t make any sense to me.
My relationship with Andy started at a very young age at Roseville’s Sertich Hockey Camp, which for me was great because a lot of the high school players became your coach for the summer. In hindsight, you could tell that most of those 16-17-year-old coaches were there to fill water bottles, carry a puck bag, move the nets, or to make a small paycheck during the summer. Not Andy Carroll, that is for sure. He took a notice of me, made me feel welcome, taught me how to shoot, sauce the puck, and much more. He treated every kid the same, making everyone feel important during his ever first stint as being an ambassador for young hockey players.
Being a person of color in a predominately white sport, at that age I felt very uncomfortable in being a part of a locker room atmosphere because I looked different from everyone else. Andy included me in the comradery, welcomed me to the locker room, and he made an effort to talk to my parents after practice. I’ll never forget the day that he went up to my Father and told him about how much my skating had improved. Boy, did I think that was the coolest thing ever in my nine-year-old head.
We’ve been friends ever since.
Changing lanes, I followed his hockey career when he played for the University of Minnesota Duluth, which was great because my friend’s brother, Jordan Fulton, played for the Bulldogs at the same time, who was another high school player that had a big impact on me.
Years later, when I had my big high school hockey moment, you better believe that I got a phone call from Andy Carroll. He was one of the first people to call me and leave a voice message. It wasn’t a text or any other form of technological-social media communication, but an old-fashioned phone call. What a class act. On top of that, it needs to be mentioned that he called me right after the game as well. As I recollect this memory of him, Andy was more pumped than I was and more enthusiastic than anyone else about my big glorifying moment as a hockey player.
Remember, my relationship started with him when I was eight or nine years old, and it organically grew throughout the years.
This is a guy who followed his faith, never swore, drank, did drugs, talked bad about anyone, he was always positive, passionate, and persistent. Andy only followed what he believed in and walked a righteous path in life. He only wanted to help others get to the next level not only in hockey but also in achieving success in life. Most importantly, his modesty and humbleness rubbed off on so many people.
When I got word about this tragedy, I texted a former teammate of his, Jordan Fulton, and I told him that he was lucky to have played on a team with him. I wish I could have played on a hockey team with him.
My favorite moment with Carroll was when he told me that he would do anything to go to Europe and play hockey with Marty Sertich; Hobey Baker Award Winner, Mr. Hockey, and longtime Roseville Raider linemate. I thought that was remarkable because I was jealous that he genuinely told me that with such honesty because the only person that I could say that about was him. I wanted to be on his line, playing for the Roseville Raiders back in the 2003 State Championship game. But, I never told him, and that is why I am saying this now.
There are very few upstanding young men like Andy Carroll in this world. Despite all of these great qualities that he had, he never judged anyone for their sinister vices. This says a lot because we as humans are very judgemental, therefore his ability to accept others for who they were without any judgment was his greatest quality that I admired.
We kept in touch throughout his hockey career, but it was incredible how I got the honor to reconnect with him in my early adulthood when I got to work in the same building with him in a hockey workout training facility. He was there anywhere between one to three days a week, and you better believe that those were my favorite days when he was there. Not every kid in the world gets to reconnect with his childhood role model to only be working beside him. Albeit we did not work for the same company, but I would always help him with drills, workouts, and his skills classes.
It was the best to be able to shoot pucks with him while we both had work breaks. Man, he could really rip the puck compared to me. Which is why he was a pro hockey player and I was not.
That being said, why do bad things happen to good people? I don’t know all of the details of what or why this happened to him. But, I never want to know the truth of such an evil that did this to the world.
It isn’t fair. Life isn’t fair. It isn’t even supposed to be fair. When something is not right, fair, or just, you have to speak up. You have to say something and this article is everything that I have to say about him.
There was nothing more important to me when I was a kid who didn’t really feel comfortable playing hockey to hear some encouragement from someone that you looked up to. A small act of kindness can really go a long way.
The world has lost one valiant upstanding class act.
May his spirit live on.
Remember, “The Zos Knows”.
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