On Saturday April 20, 2014, both the Keene State College men’s lacrosse and softball teams were on their way to capture wins against Southern Maine University. Members of both teams said they smelled smoke. Some players said they thought it was probably just the concession stand burning burgers — they never once thought that a death had occurred near their fields.
“One of the grounds crew told me that there was brush fire near the soccer field, but I didn’t know anything else until the athletic director told me that Nate DeMond had been electrocuted,” softball coach Charlie Beach said.
During the games, players said they noticed fire trucks driving by, along with the smell of smoke and ashes falling onto the field and floating in the air.
“We kept asking our coach what was going on and he told us it was just a brush fire and to keep playing,” Stephanie Long, a member of the KSC Softball team, said.
However, during the fourth inning, the softball coaches were informed of the situation and decided to call the team’s second game.
“Our coach called everyone onto right field, including parents and basically said, ‘I’m not very good at this but a power line fell and a grounds crewman went to go investigate and stepped on it, and died immediately.’ Right then, our whole team was in shock,” Long said.
Because of the tragic incident, the softball team had to call the second game they were scheduled to play. Where they fall in the Little East Conference standings may be affected.
Regardless, many players became very emotional when they learned more about DeMond’s family and his two children.
“I immediately broke down in tears,” sophomore softball player Catherine Tewell siad. “I had been living with the motto ‘life’s too short’ all last week, and this happening really brought everything forward just looking at my teammates.”
“We were all really shocked and really sad. Coach told us how nice he was and that he had two kids and we all just felt really bad for him,” lacrosse player Robert Hart said.
But players said this unexpected news brought teams even closer to each other.
“After the game in the locker room, we had a moment of silence for Nate and his family just to give respect to him since he was a good friend to our coach,” Hart said.
Players from both teams said they truly respect the work that the KSC’s Grounds Crew does for them and on Saturday April 26, 2014, the lacrosse and softball as well as baseball teams made a tribute to Nate and his work for the teams.
Baseball team members painted his name accompanied by an Owl on their field. Softball players wore bracelets with his name and lacrosse wore leg bands.
“We all realized that yes, clearly our game was important, but it’s not the most important thing in the world. It was a real reality check,” Long said.
“Our team is different than a lot of other teams on campus. We all have personal friends on the team, but I really have sixteen close friends who will be there to the end. No matter what happens we’re all going to be there for each other. When I was crying I had my teammates hugging me and parents were there telling me everything was going to be okay. I think this brought everyone who was there closer together,” Tewell said.
“It was just really sad. We were all getting ready to go home for Easter and just hugged each other,” Long said. “My mom always told me ‘life is too short’ and to not worry about the small things. I think this happening really puts that in perspective for me. You don’t know what’s going to happen, so don’t sweat it. Try to enjoy each day,” Tewell said.
Kendall Pope can be contacted at email@example.com