Thursday, October 14, 2010

In Memory: Taylor Vit (1987 - 2010)

by Maureen L.
It has already been reported that on Monday, October 11, University of Kentucky senior Taylor Vit passed away from injuries sustained in a car accident on Sunday October 10. Police report that Vit was not wearing his seat belt and was traveling alone. Many thoughts and prayers go out to Taylor’s family and friends, his teammates, and the entire UK community for this tragic loss.

Taylor Vit was a senior at UK, one of the team’s assistant captains, and a dynamic hockey player. A native of Villanova, PA (near Philadelphia), Taylor transferred to UK in his sophomore year. He was absolutely dynamic and a huge part of the UK team, leading the team in scoring. In his first year with the Wild Cats, he put up 51 points in 32 games (24G, 27A). He exploded last season, logging, 89 points in 33 games (39G, 50A). This season, he was off to a fantastic start with 18 points in the first 5 games (9G, 9A). The Wildcats are currently 7-0 on the season, a record they’ll hope to improve on this weekend when they play in the ACHA D2 Showcase in Youngstown, OH. They’ll be playing the tournament in memory of Taylor. The Wildcat’s general manager, Ian Ward described Vit as “an extremely good hockey player” as well as a bright student with a good sense of humor.
"He was the epitome of success in a young man. It's tragic, and the loss to the team is going to be as big as you can ever imagine."
Brian Shlonsky / Kentucky Kernel
On Thursday, October 7, Vit’s 7 goals helped lead the Wildcats to 17-2 victory over the Louisville Cardinals. On Saturday, October 9, the Wildcats hosted the Cincinnati Bearcats. In what would turn out to be Taylor’s final game, they beat the Bearcats, 12-8. Interviewed after the game, Vit spoke with pride about what he and his teammates had accomplished to start the season but was also focused forward on the upcoming tournament.
“You couldn’t ask for anything more than to be undefeated. Teams will try to play their best now knowing that we haven’t lost yet and the games will just get harder and harder. It will give us a chance to get better.
Asked about the upcoming tournament: “We get to play good teams that we don’t usually play. It’s a great opportunity to show we can play and to impress the rankings committee. We just have to be prepared to play on the road. We have to be ready to play just like we do back home. If we can play like we’re home, we can find ourselves with some quality road wins.”

As his teammates replaced their Facebook images with his jersey number (14) and resumed practice on Tuesday, they were joined with the UK hockey community in mourning the loss of one of their own. Teammate Danny Graham expressed just how tough it will be without him. He described Vit as the backbone of the team and leaving shoes that are impossible to fill. Vit wasn’t just a team favorite but a crowd favorite as well. Chris Martin owns the pro shop that overlooks the rink where the Wildcats practice and compete and spoke highly of the talented young athlete, remembering the last time Vit had come in to have his skates sharpened.
"Sitting on that couch right there, just sitting waiting on his skates. He was really quiet. He was a quiet guy, and he was kind of a gentle type of a person. Everybody here is going to miss him, even down to the parents and the guys at the concession stand will miss him," Martin said, "It's just going to take some time."
While working on this piece, I had the opportunity to speak with Char, a UK student and hockey fan who knew Taylor personally. She told me about meeting him at a party her freshman year and how he made her feel instantly welcome. She also told me a little about watching Taylor play:
“I loved to watch him play. The first thing I noticed about him was his fluidity. It sounds crazy, but he was so smooth on the ice. He had a quiet way about him, but once he was on that ice, he made you look. It wasn't hard to see that he was the heart of that team. Taylor was an amazing person. He was classy on and off the ice. And that’s a special kind of hockey player.”
Charles Bertram/
Obviously Taylor Vit’s importance as a friend, teammate, classmate, player, role model, and member of the UK Community cannot be diminished. He will be with his teammates through every game this season, win or lose. The Kentucky Kernel featured a piece by one of Taylor’s teammates, Patrick Sullivan, in which he wrote:
“Club hockey players only get five years of eligibility, but Taylor will be an active member of the team forever and I don’t think a single fan, player or official, will mind.”
No, we won’t mind. Taylor Vit will always be a part of University of Kentucky hockey. Number 14 will forever hold very special spot on the Wildcats roster.

You can read Patrick Sulivan’s entire column here:

I also want to extend special thanks to Char G. for sharing her personal experiences.


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