Friends and family gathered on Friday, May 10 in the Jack Simpson Gym to grieve the loss of Daniel Lamola, a Dinos football player and University of Calgary student who died on May 1. Lamola, who was 19-years-old, was a second-year arts student and played defensive line for the Dinos during their 2012 Hardy Cup championship season.
Lamola was a graduate of Notre Dame High School. While there, he won lineman of the year in 2011, playing in the all-star senior bowl that year. Lamola also played junior football for the Calgary Hilltoppers.
After a prayer, U of C associate vice-provost and registrar David Johnston began the service. Johnston spoke of Lamola and the many people he impacted during his short life.
“Today is a very sad day for our community as we gather in memory of Daniel Lamola,” said Johnston. “The many people in attendance at today’s service is a visible testament to how much Daniel impacted others with his spirit and his humility. Clearly, he has touched many people’s lives.”
Approximately 200 people attended the memorial service.
Daniel’s sister Karen Lamola told stories about the childhood they shared. She broke into tears when talking about the influence her brother had on her life.
“My brother has inspired me to be a bit more patient with loved ones,” she said. “Out of all of us in our family, he was the one we fought with the least. He taught me to be inquisitive and to always treat others with respect.”
Two days after Lamola’s death, Dinos football head coach Blake Nill called a team meeting. Nill said the meeting was intended to help everyone on the team begin to grieve and move forward.
“We had people from the U of C there as grievance councellors,” said Nill. “It was a very productive day in terms of making sure the kids knew what was available to help support them.”
Third-year fine arts student and Dinos football player Cyril Iwanegbe said the meeting was full of emotion.
“Before [the meeting], a bunch of us went to a friend’s house and reflected on the situation,” said Iwanegbe. “Once we got to the stadium for the meeting, everyone was in tears. All the coaches, trainers, equipment guys — everyone.”
Iwanegbe first met Lamola at a basketball tournament when the two were in grade 11. This started a close friendship that continued through university.
“He was one of the dudes that I saw at least a couple of hours every day,” said Iwanegbe. “He was just one of the most respectful guys. He knew how to respect everyone right away.”
Nill also spoke highly of Lamola’s character.
“He was one of the most genuine people there was,” said Nill. “This is really a tragedy. This kid had so much potential as an individual, an athlete and person.”