ALWAYS IN OUR HEARTS
These words are etched permanently into a sign that stands in front of Hunters Creek Middle School. The sign sits along side of a beautiful flowering tree that is just one of the many loving dedications made from friends in memory of Matt Helms. His black goalkeeper jersey with the number "00" hangs proudly above the trophy display case. It was placed there in honor of a young man who lost his life tragically when returning from an international soccer tournament in Nantes, France. This was an opportunity that Matt had worked tirelessly toward. His hard work and dedication made his dream of being a member of the NC 90 ODP team a reality.
For those of you who did not have the opportunity to meet Matt, you would have thought that he was just your quiet average young man. He was a son with a deep sense of love and respect for his family. The embodiment of the student athlete. Matt was a trusted and loyal friend, a teammate who could be counted on to play each game passionately. A young man who would quietly slip his weekly allowance into any given charity, always thinking that this kind act would go unnoticed. Yes, Matt Helms was all of this, but there was so much more!
Matt played many sports in his lifetime. He was a young man that could play any sport and play it well. From ice hockey to basketball to football. During his 8th grade year at Hunters Creek he helped his football team to the conference title going 7-0. Matt, having never played football before, was the smallest lineman in the county playing both offensive and defensive tackle. His teammates donned their conference t-shirts at their banquet with the initials MH on the sleeves. Matt was also voted the "Outstanding Defender" award in soccer. An award his brother proudly accepted on his behalf. His teammates from the Coastal Crew wore black armbands with the "00" on them. Orders came in from all over the state. These armbands are still seen on soccer fields today. A community that was stricken with grief came out shining as they celebrated the life of a friend who would remain "Always in their Hearts".
The love of Matt's life though was soccer. He attended his first soccer camp at the age of 4 while we were living in Trinidad. A soccer ball remained on his foot or in his glove 24/7. It was said that Matt was one of the best goalkeepers of his age. Many spoke of him becoming one of the brightest stars of the future. His team dubbed him "The Wall". He was an excellent shot blocker and fearless in his pursuit of one-on-one shots. We can still see him now, trash cans lined up across the backyard, sailing over the tops, arms outstretched to make the save, adding just one more can to make it a challenge. He was a true competitor, an explosive force in the goal, and possessed a burning desire to excel in this sport we have all come to love. Matt not only played for the love of the game, but also because he loved to play soccer with his teammates and friends.
Matt lived his short life well, and he made the most of his gifts. He was and is loved and missed by all of those who had the good fortune to be a part of his life. When we think of Matt we remember his mischievous smile and his huge heart. He was truly a wonderful young man and his cherished memory lives on through his family and friends. It is our goal to ensure that Matt's love for soccer will be carried out through the memorial scholarships given in his name.
Lovingly written by,
David, Karen, Joshua, and MaryKate Helms