My phone rang at 2:30 PM on Friday 8th February 2013. I had just finished lessons for the day and was heading home. I picked up, and it was my friend Max. But something was wrong - "Cam, you know you mentioned Harry was playing squash last night..."
I should add some explanation here. Harry was a good friend of both mine and Max, who was very popular at school and renowned for his incredible athletic ability - especially squash, where he was a top player, winning tournaments and even having a world ranking at the age of eighteen.
Here's the three of us together, mucking around on Max's laptop in our Sociology class last week:
|Left to right (Myself, Max and Harry)|
First and foremost, as an athlete, Harry was amazing. He would dash around the court like a bolt of lightning and you couldn't see the ball he'd hit it so hard. We had a running joke that I couldn't even score a point against him if he played left handed - which was, unfortunately for me, true! I've known some high level athletes in various different sports in the last few years, and none of them had the level of natural talent that Harry had for his sport - he was built for the squash court.
But it wasn't just his talent that made him such a great player, he had the best work ethic of anyone I've ever known. He would spend hours training for what seemed like every day, giving 100% every single session - he'd often go to tournaments at the weekends, sometimes even in other countries. I remember he won the Polish Junior Open in Warsaw late last year - then just came back into school like nothing had happened. That was another thing about Harry, he was so humble, completely downplaying his incredible talent.
This mix of raw talent, dedication and his humble nature made for a real sportsman. Whilst it is normal for an athlete to have one or two of these qualities, he had all three. That's what made him great.
Away from sport, I'm very proud to say he was my friend. He would always be ready with advice for me, and listened to all of my problems. It's rare you meet a person who is a genuinely kind and friendly, all the time - he'd never say a bad word about anyone. Harry even followed this blog on twitter, just because I write on it! Despite all his commitments to squash, he maintained great grades at school and had offers from multiple universities.
After a hard couple of days, I played hockey at the weekend for my team as usual, as I knew it would be what Harry wanted. I went into the game with his philosophy - always give everything you've got. I put on a black armband in his memory, and went on to play my best game I can remember, against the top team in our league no less. It just shows what an impact he had.
Whether you're an athlete or not, Harry's philosophy was a great one to live by. Work hard, be happy, enjoy people and forget your troubles.
Rest in peace my friend, I will always remember you.
30th December 1994 - 7th February 2013