September 18, 2011

Tyler Walsh: So like his dad, yet his path will be his own

Shawn Walsh has been gone for 10 years, but part of his legacy is a son so willing to learn.

By Steve Solloway ssolloway@pressherald.com
Columnist

(Continued from page 1)

Tyler Walsh
click image to enlarge

Tyler Walsh grew up in Michigan after the death of his father, Shawn Walsh, the legendary University of Maine hockey coach. But now he’s back in Maine, at the university, and learning about the business and coaching part of college hockey from the program his father fostered.

Michael C. York/Special to the Telegram

click image to enlarge

Tyler Walsh, lower left, appreciates the respect that was earned by his father, Shawn, who died in 2001. The rest of the family includes Travis Walsh, next to Tyler; Alejandra, front right; Shawn Walsh holds his son, Sean, and is next to his wife, Lynne.

Monty Rand/Courtesy University of Maine

Last year he learned Ted Alfond was visiting the hockey center. Tyler Walsh asked if he could introduce himself to the son of Harold Alfond, the benefactor who stood with Shawn Walsh during the coach's suspension for NCAA infractions. Soon the two sons were shaking hands.

At about 5-foot-8, Tyler Walsh is shorter than his dad. It's the same face, the same steady gaze, the same crown of thick, dark hair. Of the 20 cousins on his father's side, Tyler is the most sensitive, said Kevin Walsh, Shawn's youngest brother. Some 10 years ago, Kevin Walsh donated the stem cells he prayed would save his brother's life. Tyler Walsh spent the three months of his summer vacation with his Uncle Kevin. They had long, deep conversations about his father.

"He's coming of age," said Kevin Walsh from his Virginia home. "He's at the point where you want to hear the stories.

"Tyler has the compassion Shawn never showed. Shawn had that edge to his personality. Tyler doesn't. He puts others first. But he's got his father's toughness." Make no mistake.

"I have three daughters," said Kevin Walsh. His oldest is 11. "This summer I got the son I wanted. Tyler has taken pieces from all of his family on both sides. He's his own person but you can't argue the DNA. He is Shawn's son."

This summer, Tyler revealed the tattoo over his heart to his uncle. It's the shamrock that became so identified with his father. Kevin Walsh is thinking of getting his own.

Today, Tyler has plans to spend time with Alan Miller high in the sky in eastern Maine. Miller is a pilot with his own two-seat plane. The two have not seen each other in several years. Miller has no doubts the conversation and the questions will turn to Shawn Walsh.

"I've got stories," laughs Miller. "Stories I couldn't tell a boy of 10."

Stories that can be told to a man. It's been 10 years of healing and not forgetting.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

ssolloway@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveSolloway

 

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