J.P. Medeiros Jr. may be gone, but memories of the former Mt. Hope High School hockey player live on through the annual J.P. Medeiros Jr. Memorial Cup games each year.
The Barrington and Mt. Hope High School boys’ hockey teams skated in the 11th annual showdown on Jan. 2, at Portsmouth Abbey, with proceeds benefiting a scholarship fund in Mr. Medeiros Jr.’s name.
JP Medeiros Jr. was a Mt. Hope alum who helped the Huskies capture their first state hockey title as a senior in 1999. He was killed in a car accident three years later as a junior studying physical therapy at Quinnipiac. His parents, assisted by an a small army of family, friends, school officials and others have taken up the game and scholarship fund as a means of honoring the young man who touched so many in such a short period of time.
“When you do something for someone else, you literally take from the sting of loss … When you give to someone else, it’s like there’s part of him that’s there because of the fact you’re doing it in his memory,” said Mr. Medeiros Jr.’s mother, Maryem.
“It makes it easier. It’s almost that sense of passing it forward … There does come a certain point in time when you move forward and having come this far you have to do something to preserve your sanity and to take care of him. Really, that’s what we’re doing. We’re keeping his memory alive by doing something good.”
The inaugural J.P. Medeiros Jr. Memorial Cup game was played in Jan. 03, nearly eight months after the accident. It was a never-before-seen match-up between the Eagles and Huskies and a posthumous answer to a previously unfulfilled wish.
“When JP and I were in high school we always wanted to play Barrington High School,” reads an inscription engraved on a small version of the Memorial Cup. It was written by Jeffrey Day, a co-captain of the ’99 Mt. Hope state hockey championship team.
“It would have meant the world to us if we could have had an annual rivalry like out football teams do. This prize is not just about who wins or loses, it is about sportsmanship, reflecting on the person John Paul was on and off the ice. On behalf of JP’s family and friends, I thank you for completing JP’s wish. Thank you for playing in this year’s turkey day on ice.”
Mr. Medeiros Jr.’s parents didn’t have a large role in planning that first game though today, the annual January match and the scholarship fund are a young-round effort for the Warren couple. There are applications for scholarships from Mt. Hope students and nominations to review from Barrington.
Then there are the cards and letters, the never-ending flow of communication that continue to pour in from family and friends who knew J.P.
There’s the father of a girl J.P. knew if college, for example, who donates hundreds of dollars to the scholarship fund annually. Then there’s the friend who writes to make sure Mr. and Mrs. Medeiros know a memorial constructed on the spot of their son’s death is being maintained.
“Your son was an amazing person and friend,” wrote one of Mr. Medeiros Jr.’s college club hockey teammates recently.
“His spirit and smile is with us everyday.”
The J.P. Medeiros Jr. Memorial Cup is more than just a hockey game or a scholarship, it’s a continuing tribute to a young man described by his a mother as a big teddy bear who made strangers friends and friends family.
“It does, at some point, become a celebration because people really get happy,” Mrs. Medeiros said.
“It just ignites all the good stuff that we knew when he was here with us.”
Mrs. Medeiros said she believes one reason for the success of the game and scholarship fund has been the population its benefited – local teenagers. Mr. Medeiros’ father, John Paul Sr., believes the ability of he and his wife to cope with the tragedy has also helped.
“I think people are supportive of the way we’ve gone on after all that has happened,” Mr. Medeiros said.
“I’m sure nobody would want to be in that situation themselves if they were a parent.”
Both parents said the goal is to keep the tournament going for years to come.