When it comes to local hockey and more specifically the San Diego Sabers, it’s been a year of heartbreaking happenings.
Because of the demise of the iconic Iceoplex, that meant that the Sabers would be forced to leave the Escondido area in search of a new home which eventually proved to be a rink in Carlsbad. But with their departure, a genuine part of the sports identity in this town went with them. It was a loss that truly hit home and impacted more people than perhaps many realized.
And more recently, I became aware of the passing of a wonderful and caring woman whose ties to the Sabers were invaluable. She was the classic example of a behind-the-scenes doer that made the lives of those around her so much better and decidedly more comfortable.
Her name was Lori Struck Lyons and from 2017 thru 2020, she was the Billet Coordinator for the Sabers. It was her responsibility to arrange for families to host and house players that were in need of accommodations. In this regard she did a terrific job and as a result, Lyons took a vested interest in all the young men she helped to get situated. And in the spirit of true hospitality, she was also someone who made her own home available to players that required a place to stay.
Because I covered the Sabers with some degree of regularity, I would often see Lyons at the Iceoplex during games. I got to know her well enough that there wasn’t a time she didn’t greet me with a friendly smile and a pleasant bit of conversation.
And because she was so connected with team members, she eventually ended up helping me facilitate a few interviews for which I will always be grateful. She made my job a heck of a lot easier by providing a direct line to more than a few players.
Moreover, the guys that I ended up talking with thought the world of her. To them, she was a consummate friend who was truly concerned about their best interests and welfare. Their affection for her ran deep. It was heartwarming to see the mutual respect and appreciation that flowed between them.
Personally, it was a sad and deflating moment when I read of her death on the Sabers’ website. It really did bring me down. Though our interaction couldn’t be classified as extensive, it was enough to leave a lasting impression. She was a delightful person who could brighten your day and make you feel a bit more positive about life in general.
But above all else, when it came to Lori Struck Lyons’s involvement with the Sabers, she was about kindness, helping out where she could and sacrifice. Her focus was on others and she made it a top priority to find a welcoming environment for players that made them feel as if they were residing in the next best place to being home.
She genuinely cared for the players she assisted, had a true influence on their lives and will always be fondly remembered by the Sabers organization. And that’s a pretty damn good legacy to leave behind.
A mighty good lady is gone and she will be sincerely missed by many. Count me among that sizeable group.