Friday, March 20, 2020 marks 20 years since Christina Elise McLeod died in a car accident at the age of just 16.
March 20 this year also would have marked a great anniversary commemoration of Christina’s life as part of the Cowichan Valley Midget C Memorial Tournament at Fuller Lake and Cowichan Community Centre Arena for three days until March 22, but the event was another unfortunate cancellation of the COVID-19 virus crisis.
McLeod’s family is among the seven tournament honourees brought together by similar unfortunate circumstances from the early loss of loved ones due to tragedies. They shared a love of hockey and that’s been a great part of the ongoing healing process for family members and friends of McLeod, Paige Whitelaw, Ryan Clark, Zak Andrews, Brayden Gale, Eric Kernachan and Caleb Kroffat since the inception of the tournament.
Unlike most other annual events being shelved possibly till the next calendar year, the Cowichan Valley Memorial Tournament was moving to the Thanksgiving weekend anyway so it won’t be too long of a wait for everyone to get together again in October.
While all of McLeod’s family members were certainly disappointed by the cancellation, “it’s better to err on the side of caution,” reasoned Christina’s mother Louise.
During her short lifetime, Christina did some figure skating but developed a passion for hockey at a time when few girls were playing so she had to join boys teams. Christina also enjoyed officiating.
Louise remembers her daughter having to dress in broom closets or wherever they could accommodate her in rinks outside the boys dressing rooms.
“The rebel days of girls hockey,” laughed Lana McLeod, one of Christina’s sisters.
Lana said Christina was “super passionate about everything she did – essentially to the Nth degree. Energetic, definitely very intelligent. She was a very thoughtful person.”
“She used to get annoyed at people who would flop around on the ice and there was nothing wrong with them,” added Louise.
“She got on well with the boys.”
“She had a ton of friends in all walks of life,” Lana indicated.
Christina was part of a big family of six that included four other girls – Lana, Lora McLeod, Lisa (now Hykaway) and Chelsea McLeod – and one brother, Andrew McLeod.
Christina is obviously always in the family’s thoughts, but since her death occurred so long ago, “I don’t dwell on it a lot,” Louise conceded. “Sometimes I can talk about it, sometimes I can’t. When you lose a child, you’re grieving for what might have been.”
She focused mainly on her other kids to get through it and still does.
“Every one of them is important,” Louise reasoned. “You can’t spend your life grieving over the one you lost. I’ve got a lot of blessings in my life.”
The McLeods were among the recent additions to the expanded memorial tournament and are grateful for it.
“Last year was the first year I was able to get involved in the tournament,” noted Louise.
“It is easier to be in that mode when you’re thinking of her,” offered Lana.
The McLeod were excited to celebrate Christina’s 20th anniversary as part of the tournament, but that will have to wait just a bit longer now.
An award at the tournament named after Christina goes to the player with the most passion for the game.