By Paige Siewert
It has been a year since the Spire community lost one of its students, Christian Yanos. The University of Saint Mary will be hosting a memorial event on Friday March 1st to reflect on his life and the legacy that lingers as a result.
The 21-year-old passed away after collapsing at a spring football practice on March 1st, 2018 during a non-contact drill. Yanos was a transfer to the University of Saint Mary in his first semester at the school. He was a Digital Communications major from California and it didn’t take long for him to touch the hearts of many of his fellow classmates. He showed a passion towards his major and had an artistic side to him that his instructors were just starting to appreciate. Jacob Hayden from Campus Ministry made his way around his classes in the weeks following, trying to help students understand and offering prayer service to anyone who required it.
Head Football coach Jay Osbourne, was quoted in an article released by the Leavenworth Times shortly after this tragedy saying, “I don’t think I will go a year of coaching football where I won’t think about this. He is with us forever. We were blessed to have spent the time we did with him.”
The school instantly responded to this event offering counselling services, large prayer events, a barbecue to host his family and a piece of campus that will embody him forever. Shirts were handed out that have his name and number printed on them. They can be seen around campus from time to time.
Additionally, a tree was planted by the entrance to Charles Berkel Stadium and still stands today. A plaque accompanied the tree that was planted in a small service where a crowd of his teammates spoke to his incredible character. The Saint Mary baseball team also created a tribute to him by spray painting his number in the grass outside their dugout for their first home game after his death.
The season following their loss, the Spires football squad created “The Yanos Way.” A series of values that guided them through the ups and downs of their season and to use their fallen teammate as motivation to keep going. If fans attended the fall games, they would’ve seen a large flag the team had made to carry out to the field and hold during the game as well as a new addition to their gold jerseys. The team’s new home gold jerseys were imprinted with his initials and number on a patch. His jersey was also brought out on many occasions as a reminder of his presence always being with the community. Their home opener was an emotional 13-10 win against Tabor College where players felt graced by his presence.
Every team on campus got a bit of a wakeup call after this event and realized how what they do every day can be taken for granted. The athletic training staff did an exceptional job responding quick and were part of the groups that were hit the hardest. The community held each other just a little bit tighter and helped heal through this difficult time.
Christian’s service will be held in the Keleher Learning Commons at 3 p.m. Prayer, reflection, and celebration will occur as well as a special visit from his family. Campus Ministry, JCOM and the football coaching staff collaborated to ensure this event took place. All students are invited and those who knew him personally are welcome to share their experiences. For now, Saint Mary remembers a friend that made it so hard to say goodbye.
Paige Siewert is a Senior at the University of Saint Mary studying Digital Communications.