By Megan Loock
Elm Staff Writer
On March 26 at 10:30 a.m., the men’s and women’s lacrosse team gathered to the right goal-end hill between Roy Kirby Stadium and Sassafras Hall to celebrate the life and memory of Blakeslee Erdmann — affectionately known as Blake — by unveiling a commemorative bench in his honor that sits at the hill’s top.
It was a cloudy Saturday morning, but the weather did not prevent parents of the men’s lacrosse team as well as alumni of the team from joining the Erdmann family and men’s lacrosse team in remembering a son, a brother, a friend, and a teammate who touched the lives of those around him.
Erdmann, a business major and lacrosse player, died on Jan. 25, 2021. The Washington College community was informed of his passing that same day in an email from the President’s Office.
The ceremony started with opening remarks from Director of the Athletic Department Thaddeus Moore and Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Sarah Feyerherm.
After the opening remarks, people were encouraged to speak a few words about their beloved teammate.
“I did not know Blake, but I’ve gotten to know his spirit and his soul through [the men’s lacrosse team],” Head Coach of the men’s lacrosse team John Nostrant ’86 said.
Coach Nostrant joined as the head coach of the men’s lacrosse team in September 2021. He heard that Erdmann was “the life” of the men’s lacrosse team both on and off the field.
Whether it was in the locker room or on the field, “he made everyone better and happier,” Coach Nostrant said. “He made everyone appreciate the things around them [that] maybe they were taking for granted.”
Those who spoke after Coach Nostrant were the people who knew Erdmann the most: fellow teammates Senior Captains Mathew Haag and Ryan Leahy, as well as his brother Chris Erdmann.
Haag and Leahy lived with Erdmann from their sophomore year up until his passing in January 2021. They fondly remembered how much fun Erdmann was fun and noted his ability to bring people together.
Leahy said when Erdmann was not playing Xbox or watching “Entourage” with his friends, he was on the field scoring goals, he was showing his teammates his highlight tapes from high school.
Haag added that Erdmann could be found “chilling on the hill with his Natty Light, cheering on the Shoremen while also yelling at the ref to make better calls.”
“Sometimes that cool guy persona made it seem like he was carefree, but Blake never hid his passion for lacrosse and hanging out with the team.”
Haag said that he and Leahy considered stepping away from the sport following Erdmann’s passing; however, they decided to stay as it gave them a purpose to “rally behind.”
As part of a commemorative tradition before every game to remind them and the team of that purpose, Haag and Leahy lead the Shoremen onto the field, holding Erdmann’s #49 jersey. They place the jersey on the back of the sideline bench to symbolize his passion for lacrosse and his love for his team.
When Chris Erdmann stepped up to give his speech, he gave thanks to both the lacrosse team and the players’ parents for supporting him and his family during this difficult year. He also made expressed how much he loved to watch the photos and videos of the team carrying his brother’s jersey out on the field.
“It makes my day,” Chris Erdmann said.
That same jersey was laid on the new bench crafted in his memory.
“Though Blake is no longer physically here, his presence and memories are felt by all of us,” Leahy said.
Mirroring Leahy’s sentiment, Haag said that when he plays from now on, he will always imagine Erdmann sitting on the bench cheering for the Shoremen.
Leahy said that the tradition of carrying Erdmann’s #49 will continue for the rest of the Spring 2022 season.
“We look forward to carrying on his legacy and carrying him with us for as long as I am here, and certainly as long as the program continues,” Coach Nostrant said.
Photo by Kayla Thornton
Featured Photo Caption: A bench dedicated to the late Blakeslee Erdmann, a Washington College student and player #49 on the men’s lacrosse team. His bench is located on the hill between Roy Kirby Stadium and Sassafras Hall.