SAAC President Brad Campion's Tribute To Kelsey Annese and Matt Hutcinson

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, the Geneseo community gathered in Kuhl Gymnasium for a remembrance ceremony in honor of Kelsey Annese and Matt Hutchinson. Among the speakers tabbed to give remarks during the event was Student Athlete Advisory Committee president and men's soccer team captain Brad Campion. Below is the poignant tribute he made for his two classmates.

Good evening, my name is Brad Campion. I am the President of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and a member of the Geneseo Men’s Soccer Team. More importantly, I am here tonight to represent the voice and strength of our Geneseo student-athletes. We would like to sincerely thank all the individuals who helped organize this event that remembers, appreciates and celebrates the lives of two beautiful people. Furthermore, thank you all for coming tonight to support those individuals closest to Kelsey and Matt as well as support one another. My heart goes out to the families of Kelsey and Matt, the Women’s Basketball team, the Women’s Volleyball team who Kelsey was so close with and the Men’s Ice Hockey Team. I love all of you. I hope to capture the spirit of these two beautiful people by sharing with you the stories and memories I’ve gathered from their respective teams and friends along with my own personal experiences.  Let us all be united as one tonight.

I share the same shock, extreme frustration and deep sadness that so many of you feel across this community.  As the news begin to spread on the morning of January 17th, I began to crumble inside.  Mental clips of Hutch’s laugh and old beat-up red bronco flashed through my head. I saw images of Kelsey’s face from the night before when I met and talked with her for the first time at the house. My whole body became numb. There were simple no words to describe it. How could this have happened at Geneseo? A place that we’ve all grown to worship and view as a surreal, bubble-town blocked from outside horrors and fears. The Geneseo community had lost two brilliant people that touched so many lives in there three and half years here; two brilliant people that consistently put everybody else before themselves.  They both were truly selfless, humble and kind to all they met. These are the qualities I wish to celebrate tonight because it is very rare to find two college student-athletes with these traits.

As stated by her close friends, Kelsey described herself as, “I am really awkward, but I own it.” I think this is an incredible way to view oneself. Kelsey accepted and embraced her differences and uniqueness. As I listened to Kelsey’s friends’ stories, I noticed there were these moments in which Kelsey peeked out of her self-proclaimed awkward shell and showed what really was inside her. Those closes to her can think of many of these moments. As her teammate Lea described it, these were “Kelsey moments.” These moments included, Kelsey talking for hours with a friend who was angry with a certain person or situation. By the end of the conversation, Kelsey had completely changed the opinion and mindset of her friend by having them look at the situation from the other person’s point of view. These moments of awkward brilliance also came out in day-to-day interactions with Kelsey. She would say state some complex political argument completely out of context, sing all the lyrics to a random ‘70s song nobody knew or read dozens on dozens of books before you read your class syllabus. In basketball practice, her teammate Kara described a scene where she would be comfortably defending Kelsey without too much worry of her getting by. Kara would be mistaken. Kelsey would cross her up and then do a crazy reverse lay-up over 6’2” forward Allison Mckenna. Kara couldn’t believe these moments and got frustrated at her own bad play. And often times, Kelsey responded by innocently saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to that.”

Kelsey humble acts of kindness and friendship extended to all aspects of her life. Kelsey’s absolute favorite band was Matchbox 20, in which she won exclusive concert tickets to early last year. Kelsey was beyond excited to attend, but realized there was an informal basketball meeting that same day. Most everybody would have skipped a practical meaningless practice for this reason. However, Kelsey acknowledged that she was the captain and no matter how minor the issue, she would put the team first. She gave her dream concert tickets up to be with her team. In addition, Kelsey would collect the cans and bottles every weekend from her house to go to Wegman’s by herself to recycle them. Kelsey would not use the money receipts on herself, but would save them up for her housemates to decide what to get for the group.  Although, this act seems incredible small its just another example of Kelsey’s selfless acts.

And last, my favorite fact I learned about Kelsey was that I would like to share with you is that she was absolutely obsessed with frozen chocolate chip waffles. Apparently, Kelsey ate chocolate waffles for practical every single meal. Her housemates constantly found them in the toaster or half-eaten around the house. And after long nights on weekends, Kelsey would stay up and cook them for all of her housemates.

Tonight and forever, let our hearts be filled with Kelsey’s love, awkwardness, brilliance, kindness and passion for chocolate chip waffles. Although it was only for a brief period of time, I am just truly blessed that I was able to meet her personal.  Kelsey was a beautiful human whose spirit will live on through our memories and the way in which we inspire to be just like her. Kelsey will forever be apart of our Geneseo student-athlete family and the Geneseo community as a whole.

 Then there was Hutch…an absolute character. As teammate Ryan Donnelly describes, the kid showed up freshmen year all the way from Vancouver with a very small suitcase. No bed sheets, pillows, barely any clothes and a crayon drawing with a note on the back of it that said “Hutch, you owe me five dollars for this.” With all of that, he was certainly well equipped for a 21 year old for freshmen year at college 3,000 miles away. I also always wondered where he got all the hats he wore. Everyday I saw him; he had a new hat on. Well, turns out he stole all of them from friends over the years. 

Materials didn’t matter to Hutch. Matt brought something else to campus that day. Matt brought an overwhelming spirit of happiness and commitment to volunteer his time and effort for the betterment of his friends and community. I was fortunate enough to call Matt my friend and worked with him in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.  There wasn’t a single meeting where Matt didn’t contribute something to say, crack a joke or volunteer for a leadership position. Specifically, he organized the annual Teddy Bear Toss for the Men’s Hockey team this year. He advertised the event in strictly Hutch fashion by posting on social media and telling everybody to come to the event because he “wanted them teddies.” The most powerful thing was that Matt completed all of this work for children charities and for Geneseo athletics, even though he wasn’t fortunate enough to dress in the game. Besides being frustrated as a senior who may not necessarily saw much ice time, he work delinquently to assure the Teddy Bear Toss was a success.

One of my favorite memories of Hutch that reflects his goofy, yet friendly ways is when he attended the Equestrian Meet with Bridget Lincoln and myself. The Equestrian team had been frustrated with us not attending their meets. So, one fall weekend, Bridget and I decided to drive out and see what it was all about. We texted in our group, asking if anybody else would like to come…the only one to respond was Hutch. Claiming he loved horses. Matt showed up to a muddy, wet, cold and smelly stable that afternoon wearing just sandals and basketball shorts. He then claimed he bought $400 cowboy boots for this situation…but did not wear them.  Obviously, didn’t think that much through. He didn’t care though. He was there to support the Equestrian team and to my surprise, to just see the horses. Although, Matt was terrified at the moment when he was feeding a horse an apple and almost got his finger bitten off. But at the end of the day Matt texted in our group, “Wow, that really made my Sunday.”

Hutch was just so full of life. He touched the Geneseo athletic community, his geography department, his volunteer fire department and all of his friends with his kindness, laughter and hard work. Just like Kelsey, he was incredibly humble and selfless. Just talk to any of Hutch’s teammates or housemates for a minute and you will realize how special Matt truly was. The reason I was able to share the memories of Kelsey and Matt’s friends tonight is because of the unique athletic-community we have here at Geneseo. Unlike many other schools our athletic teams do not have conflict with one another and in fact consistently spend time with one another. This group of people is the major support system that helped me with my own recovery. Our love and support for one another is truly amazing. I feel as if that we are all teammates tonight and will be forever. This united group is something Kelsey and Matt stood for. May their spirits keep our strength as an athletic community strong and full-hearted.

Two nights ago I found myself in a crowd of fellow Geneseo students. As I looked among the faces of the crowd, I thought for a brief second I saw Matt…wearing one of his many snapback hats with a big smile on his face. I thought of how I grown so accustomed to that scene of Matt laughing, joking and enjoying life amongst a group of friends and how I would never experience that again. My body grew numb and a rush of emotions flooded my mind. At first, I didn’t know how to handle myself and wondered how many times would I experience something like this again. How many times would other people close to Matt or Kelsey experience a moment like this? I scanned the crowd once again in hope that it would actually be Matt. I did not find him. However, at second glance I did find my fellow students from different athletic teams, organizations and backgrounds enjoying time with one another. I saw smiles, laughter and hugs. I heard people offering support and compassion for each other. I felt the room was filled with incredible friendship, warmth and love. Suddenly, my numbness faded and my heart became full. I cracked a small grin as I realized that Matt was there. I realized that I would see and feel Matt’s spirit at other moments like these in the future. And although these moments will be difficult to handle at first, I understand that I shouldn’t be sad. But, rather I should feel comfort in knowing Hutch is there.

Moving forward, there will be times where you catch yourself in a moment of remembrance. For those that personally knew Kelsey and Matt, this moment might occur at a game, practice, party, eating chocolate chip waffles (Kelsey) or just walking to class. Your eyes and ears will catch something that immediately reminds you of Matt and Kelsey. For those that may not have known Kelsey and Matt, this moment might occur during an iconic Geneseo sunset or during a light snowfall on a winter day. When this time comes, it is extremely important to stop and embrace that moment. Embrace the feelings and thoughts that rush through you. Do not resist any of it. Let your heart become filled with love and warmth…because at that very moment, no matter where it occurs, Kelsey and Matt are with you. They are reaching out to you and letting you know that they will always be there.

Geneseo is truly an incredible community. The actions and way in which Kelsey and Matt conducted his or herself profoundly impacted and changed the culture on this campus. They were selfless and caring, humble and brilliant, awkward and hardworking, kind and funny, handsome and beautiful. They were dedicated to making others feel happy and safe, no matter how much of their own time they had to sacrifice. They were everything we strive to be as college students at Geneseo. They were Kelsey and Matt. Let us take these two beautiful people as role models to live by. Let us celebrate their lives each day by living how they did. Let their love spread across our campus and make our community tighter and stronger. Tonight and forever we are One Knight with One beating heart.

In closing, I just like to say to Kelsey and Matt, May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.