My Dear Andrew,
I am writing this letter to you as much as I am writing it about you. Coming here today is so difficult for all of us, I will try my best to describe in a few short minutes what my wife and I as well as other family members have built and developed with Andrew over the last 16 ½ years.
We thank God for what he delivered to us on April 23rd back in 1985, a beautiful baby boy. We named him Andrew Michael. It wasn’t a family name, Andrew wasn’t being named after anyone, Andrew was just going to be his own person. It was amazing how that simple decision would end up being the cornerstone of his life. Andrew was different, with so many good qualities that this eulogy will not do him justice. As a parent we all want to be proud of our children. Andrew was the kind of boy who any father or mother would have been proud to call their son.
From his early childhood he was a good student, a natural, someone who paid attention to the important information and skipped over the minor details, he hardly studied but received good marks. He would rarely bring papers home to sign, especially tests. My wife Eileen would ask him every day, what went on in school today? His answer always the same, nothing, when prodded by Eileen or myself to try and get an answer, he would always say, “I forget”. Absent-minded yes, brilliant also, that was our son. At teacher conferences my wife and I would be told: “he doesn’t get paper work signed”, “he has missed some homework assignments or labs”, and then we would be shown his test scores, all high 80’s, 90’s and 100’s. Andrew never flaunted his abilities on anything; what we didn’t observe ourselves; we would have to find out from someone else, never Andrew. Just one example of his educational ability that comes to mind, as a freshman in school he scored very high on difficult regents exams in math & science; he scored 98 on one and a 95 on the other. Did he tell us, no, a teacher called to congratulate us on how well he did, he never said a word, when he was asked for an explanation his reply was simply “I forgot”.
Athletics was no different, playing sports at a very early age with his brothers Philip & Brian they all excelled in soccer. While I had the opportunity to coach all of my boys at least once, there were years I couldn’t. In the league we played in, if you were the coach of a team you were allowed to pick your own children; without having to draft them in a selection process… Read More >>
It was never Andy or Drew, it was just Andrew. Your parents asked me to be your Godfather. Since the day that Andrew was born, many people said that he was lazy, but to those of us who knew him, he was just efficient. He never ran his fastest but always ran just fast enough to win. When he was younger, at the EAA races in Edgewater, Andrew would lie around on the grass and wait for his race to be called. When it was time, he would slowly get up and stroll over to the starting line. When the race started, he ran one step ahead of second place, and when his foot crossed the finish line as the winner, he would just start to walk slowly over to his spot and lay in the grass until it was time race again. Andrew was an unselfish person in both his regular every day life and in sports. The name on the front of the jersey was always more important than the one on the back. As we sat around to think who was Andrew’s favorite player, we could not come up with one, because Andrew only had favorite teams. Andrew would always come out with off the wall remarks. Our family was always together. He once asked Philip “Why is Aunt Terry so fat”. Philip responded, “Because she’s seven months pregnant.” But that was Andrew. What we wouldn’t give to hear one of those remarks today. You are my nephew by birth, but my friend by choice. You will always be with us and may you rest in Heaven.
Andrew was not only my brother but my best friend. He was not a guy for words. We would always fight over wearing each others cloths. During the summer we would wake up early to get out there and catch the big ones. Every once in a while when we had some extra money we would go to K-Mart to get some new lures. He wanted to have the largest collection around. I am going to miss him talking about the fishing boat he was going to have when he got older. I going to miss how Andrew and I would go on vacations together with our families and teach the little ones to fish together and all that other fun stuff we used to do. Having our houses near the ocean, Andrew loved everything to do with the water. There is so much more I could say but there isn’t enough time in the world to say it. That just wouldn’t be Andrew anyway. I just hope that everyone learns from my brothers mistake and tries to make their lives that much better, if not for yourselves, but for the people around you. You will never know when you will see that person for the last time.
My only regret is that I did not get to tell my brother that I loved him one last time.
It is my privilege to speak to you about Andrew McArdle , on behalf of his family, friends, coaches and team mates. I don’t know about you but over the last couple of days I’ve been searching for a place to anchor my hope. When times like this come for all of us, we look to a place to anchor for stability. We want to celebrate, remember and think, and think about the Andrew that we love.
I want to encourage everyone to share stories, and everybody’s got an Andrew McArdle story sitting in here, and to remember the emotion that goes with those stories. I think Andrew would be very happy that we would be laughing telling stories with each other. I remember Andrew as a quiet, rosy red cheeked kid who always had a big smile on his face. He never had a bad word to say about anyone. He was happy go-lucky and would brag that he was the best fisherman around; and he probably was. As his father describes, he was a gentle giant who was a hard-nosed football player and played the game the way it was supposed to be played.
I’ll never forget the first time I met Andrew. He had just finished his first day of school as a freshman. I was walking down to the Varsity practice field and I passed by the freshman football practice. As I stopped and watched for a few minutes I noticed this big lineman with long arms and tremendously big feet. I walked up to him and asked him what his name was and he said, “Andrew McArdle, Coach!” and I responded “Andrew, you and I are going to become very good friends.
At the end of his sophomore season, I asked Andrew to join the varsity football team for the last few games. We were playing in a bowl game at Arlington High School and we were having trouble with our kickoff team. I asked Andrew, who was the kicker on the J.V. team if he would kickoff to start the second half. I told him, “don’t worry about making a tackle just kick the ball as far as you can and let the coverage team make the play.’ So here he is, a 6’2’’, 230-pound kicker, and wouldn’t you know he ends up making his first varsity tackle on that kickoff team. That was Andrew, always surprising us with his determination.
In the beginning of the football season this year, the team attended Camp Pontiac. At Camp Pontiac, we have a bass fishing tournament each year with first place going to the player who catches the heaviest fish. Andrew would try to tell everyone that the “banjo minnow” was the key to winning the tournament. One afternoon we had a bad thunder and lightening storm. So, I cancelled practice and told everyone to go back to their cabins. I was in my cabin, looking outside at the lake and there was Andrew standing on a metal dock, pole in hand determined to win that tournament. Needless to say, there were not many fish being caught this year.
So I guess Andrew and some of his teammates were tired of not catching any bass and resorted to fishing for sunfish. I received a knock on my cabin from the lifeguard that was on duty. He said that someone was catching sunfish from the lake and putting them into the swimming pool. By the time I walked up to the pool, there must have been two dozen sunfish swimming around, being chased by lifeguards trying to catch them with pool skimmers. Come to find out, Andrew was at the hub of this prank.
Andrew never showed too much emotion on the football field. The only thing that I disagreed with him about was being a Dallas Cowboy fan. But, I remember we were playing Mahopac toward the end of this year and we had them pinned inside their own 5-yard line. Mahopac decided to run a sweep play and Andrew mad a great tackle and sacked the running back, which was close to being a safety. He comes running off the field yelling that it was a safety. Only to trip over his big, ugly, orange cleats and nearly fall on his face. After regaining his balance he just looked up at me and gave me that great big smile.
So, Andrew today is our chance to say: “thank you” for the way you brightened our lives even though God granted you such a short life. We will all feel cheated that you were taken from us so young. Yet we must learn to be grateful that you came along at all. Only now, that you are gone, do we truly appreciate what we are without, we want you to know that life without you is very, very difficult.
Andrew McArdle, son, brother, grandson, nephew, friend, classmate, teammate, a wonderful gift to his family and all who knew him. And one hell of a football player.
I’m gonna miss you buddy.
It was while watching Andrew on our local sports fields that I first came to appreciate him as an athlete.
It was through the eyes of my son, Jon! that I grew to appreciate him as a person. His unflappable nature. His gentle heart. His sense of humor. Jon would say, “Dad, Andrew is so funny. All he has to do is look at you, or say one word.” Jon was always amazed at how Andrew -no matter what -never seemed nervous, upset or angry. One of the bigger kids, he didn’t bully, or let others do so. When they did, he gave others a chance to end it. But if need be, he would quietly, directly put the aggressor in his place. And that was that.
If you didn’t look closely, you could underestimate Andrew’s many athletic gifts. Big, strong guys often lack speed. But Andrew combined exceptional quickness and speed to go with that strength. He had quick hands, and always seemed to make the big play.
On the baseball field, I have seen Andrew win games with his glove, his bat, his pitching -and his heart. Andrew’s swing made hitting coaches scratch their heads. Some things he did should have diminished his power. Yet he hit moon shots towering fly balls that seemed to go on forever. Several years ago, at Arlington, I watched one of the best players ever at Carmel hit a monstrous home run that just missed reaching the school, over 400 feet away. It remains the longest homer I’ve seen there by a varsity player. However, two years ago, in a freshman game at that same field, Andrew hit a home run that actually DID hit the school.
Hitting theory says Andrew’s uppercut swing should have kept him from consistently hitting the ball. Yet his batting average was always among the best on his teams.
A couple years back, Andrew decided he wanted to change his swing, so I offered to help. At the time, he was hitting well over .400, leading the team. After help from me, his average plunged about 100 points. Fortunately, Andrew decided I’d done enough and he returned to his swing. And his average rose again.
Andrew didn’t have a lot of pitching experience, yet he could be outstanding, overpowering and accurate. And of all places on a ball field, it was on the mound where Andrew’s personality most revealed itself. Once, in a school game, he pitched a complete- game shutout, winning 2-0, despite having runners in scoring position nearly every inning. And as the game hung on every pitch, with everyone else’s stomach in knots, Andrew seemed as calm and relaxed as if casting for bass on the lake near home. In the final inning, with two outs and the bases loaded, he ran the count to 3-2 before striking out the last batter.
Friends respected Andrew’s toughness. He would take bumps that would keep most guys down, yet get up smiling, as if it were really funny how much that hurt.
Natalie Colella and Nancy Lindgren tell of the time Andrew came from fishing, followed by pal, Dan McCormick. Andrew had a fishing lure caught on the side of his head. Of course, Andrew thought it was no big deal, and saw no reason to go to the doctor r even when Dan pointed out, “Andrew, you look ridiculous.” Andrew loved a good practical joke. And his best pals knew if they were going camping with him, it was probably wise to keep such personal items as toothbrushes well hidden.
Last year, in baseball, when our team would hit a ball and the other team misplay it, Andrew would call out, “Good job, Noonan.” Of course, the other team figured we had a guy named “Noonan” in our lineup and paid no attention, and Andrew’s teammates got a big kick out of it – until the day we played two games with a Rockland team and they caught on. Pretty soon, our own errors were met with: “Nice job, Noonan.” The thing is, Andrew enjoyed that, too. You see, he could take a joke as well as give one.
As much as he loved team sports, Andrew’s favorite pastime was that most individual of sports: fishing. And he loved it for all the right reasons. I remember hearing about a huge bass he’d caught, and was surprised to hear he’d let it go, releasing it back into the lake. I now know he did that all the time. Andrew loved to compete, but felt no ill will toward his competitor. His soul was that of a true sportsman.
Here’s to you, Andrew. May the Good Lord keep you always, and keep you always in our hearts. And as for those big fish that got away, may their future adversaries all be so worthy -and so gentle -as you