Matthew Campbell came to the Greater Seattle Hockey League in September of 2019, looking for a team to play with for a season. He knew he was only going to be in the Seattle area for the Winter 2019-20 season, as he was undergoing medical treatment, but he still wanted to play hockey and have a team. The Letterkenny Irish were the very lucky team to get Matthew, and he quickly became a huge asset. He could play wing or center week in and week out, and fill in at defense whenever asked. Never critical of his teammates, he was hyper critical of himself, always pushing himself to be better.
In the locker room, he was always great to be around, and it was a fun night when he’d come out after a game for a bite to eat. In November, Matthew and his mother, Judy, made the trip out to Winthrop to play on the Letterkenny Irish team for The Great Puckaroo Roundup tournament, taking home the Division C championship! Matthew was easy to talk to, and it was never easy to remember that he hadn’t been a teammate for years. He had a personal interest in being a part of the Seattle Pride Hockey Association, and hoped to be more active with it when his schedule allowed.
When COVID-19 suddenly stopped play in March 2020, Matthew had sat out the last game. He’d sent a text only an hour beforehand saying he was too tired to make it, and he was very sorry. He’d hoped he’d be strong enough, but he just wasn’t feeling well. Matthew was always trying to make it to the games, desperate to not let down his team. He always thought of everyone else before himself.
On April 19, 2020, Matthew passed away from the aggressive cancer that had brought him to Seattle for treatment. None of us had known it was terminal when he came and joined our league. He knew, but he didn’t want to worry anyone. He just wanted to be one with the team.
The Letterkenny Irish team has retired Matthew’s number 38 in his honor. This was not the goodbye we expected.