Friday, May 21, 2010

Celebrating Life, Erica Blasberg Edition

(First, I'd like to formally apologize for being MIA all week. I drove out on Tuesday to California for the Erica Blasberg funeral on Wednesday afternoon, and then took a couple of days off to hang out with some good friends that I don't see that much.)

On Wednesday at 11 in the morning, a celebration began for the life of Erica Blasberg. As you've read around these parts the last few days, Blasberg was a friend of mine, and a great gal. As one of my best friends, Josh Greenberg, attended the ceremony with me and after all the speeches were done and we had finally sat down in my Trailblazer, he looked over and said, "You know, she really was a unique girl. There aren't any girls like her."

It was true. Starting at 11, the ceremony had 12 speakers that included former Arizona golf coach Greg Allen (now with Vanderbilt, and they're playing well at nationals so root hard for one of the cooler guys ever), LPGA player Irene Cho, both parents and, well, me. Erica's parents and Chase Callahan, her former agent and a man that deserves a Hollywood star for his efforts the last week handling all that came with this tragedy, asked me to be one of the speakers, an honor I will remember for a very long time.

The entire ceremony was both painstakingly sad and incredibly beautiful. The stories that flowed in on Erica throughout the two hours made everyone laugh, smile and cry. The words "goofy" and "fun-loving" seemed to be tossed around as much as "the" and "as." Her smile was talked about. Her taste in music was a focus.

Ray Kim talked about her love for seeing friends trip, just so she could dog them. Her brother talked about watching Erica make a hole-in-one in one of the LPGA events he attended and said it was one of the proudest moments of his entire life. Former LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens let us know that her and Erica were rookies the same year, and told a funny story about how Erica didn't know that rookie orientation was mandatory.

While everyone in the room was stunned at what had happened to our friend, the choice in speakers was as perfect as her golf swing.

Since a lot of you couldn't be there, I thought I'd share a portion of my speech with you. While it wasn't the easiest to get through, I tried to give people an idea of just how fun she really was. Here it is, and this time, with less choking up.

One of my favorite moments ever with Erica was carrying her bag in our first tournament together, at the Phoenix event in 2009. She came into it struggling with her game, and asked me to loop for her as a change of pace. I told her it might make for a good story, she agreed and told me to write it up no matter the details.

On a late Friday afternoon, as our Arizona Wildcats were getting bounced from the Sweet 16 by Louisville (Erica kept asking during the round if we had any shot at winning, and I attempted to make our Wildcats seem mighty), Erica hit it in a bunker. She popped it out to a foot, tapped it in for par and came over as I was raking the bunker.

Her eyes widened and that glorious smile crept across her face as I exited the hazard, and Erica gave me a punch on my shoulder. “You are really good at raking bunkers!” she exclaimed to me, obviously more shocked by this “talent” of mine than anything else that had happened during the week.

“I get a lot of practice, Erica. That’s what happens for us that hit the ball like mortals.”

For the next two holes she was bouncing around, happy as can be that that her friend, the caddie, could execute a menial task on the golf course. Obviously Erica hadn’t been in a lot of bunkers in her life. I think being a crummy bunker raker is actually a good thing.

As the days and weeks continue to tally, it is important to remember the person that we knew and loved, and the girl that could make us all laugh like we were watching a comedian on a hot streak.

Rest in peace, EB.


Mike said...

When a good friend dies, Shane, I think it's ok to go MIA for a while. Saying goodbye the right way always takes a little time.

The Armchair Golfer said...

As Mike said, what could be a more valid reason for being MIA? What a great honor to speak, too, something you'll always remember and cherish. You were obviously a good friend to Erica and, as you noted, a good bunker raker. That loop with her was more special than you knew at the time. Again, sorry for your loss.

Spolitico said...

Nice work Bacon

Scott Tesar said...

I am still in chock as I write this - I was assigned to keep score for Erica for two rounds during the '06 Longs Drugs Challenge.

She was kinda reserved, almost shy, yet she was approachable. Most of the pros provide autographed golf balls or gloves to the volunteer scoring team, but Erica actually took time to talk to us, thank us and ask a few questions about our backgrounds and stuff.

You could tell that she was hard on herself, and had high expectations for her game.

I became a fan after that experience, and followed her career after that event...

I'm still in shock and cannot believe that she's gone...thanks for sharing your memories...