WINTHROP, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Three years after her sudden death, the Winthrop community is still remembering Kelsey Stoneton - this time, permanently.
Stoneton died in 2014 after collapsing doing what she loved - playing field hockey.
She's still the honorary team captain - and the field will live on in her name.
“She used to have a saying when she came in and said, ‘What's up Daddy-o?’ And it was just her lighting up the room,” said Stoneton’s father, Joel.
“She was wise beyond her years,” added her mother Kimberly. “And anyone that knows her and I… She was my clone. We have the same sense of humor.”
Three years later – her parents' pain is still raw.
Kelsey died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism in August of 2014.
Now - she will hold a permanent spot in people's memories, thanks to the dedication of the Kelsey Anne Stoneton Memorial Field Hockey Field.
“Sometimes I just stop and think ‘Oh my gosh people are going to refer to this field as Kelsey's field…’” Kelsey's mother can barely talk about it without getting choked up. “You want people to remember her and it means the world. Because it feels like the rest of the world has moved on and you are just still stuck here,” she said.
For Kelsey's father, Joel, his job is a daily reminder of the daughter he lost.
He works as the athletic director at Kelsey's high school, and walks by her retired jersey every day.
“I will see her picture and have to take a minute just to get myself together,” he said. “Not for any reason other than that I have to do my job.”
Despite the pain, Kelsey's family tries to live each day like she did.
Her little sister Hailey is now a junior at Winthrop High – the same age Kelsey was when she died.
Hailey had planned to play field hockey with her big sister, but her father says he thinks the loss of Kelsey took a toll on her. “Kelsey was not only her sister but best friend, motivator,” he said.
The field isn’t the only memorial for Kelsey. Thanks to donations from community members, a $2,000 scholarship is given out annually to a student who embodies characteristics like Kelsey. Joel Stoneton says that because of community donations, this scholarship can be given out for at least the next 25 years.
The slogan used ever since Kelsey’s death – ‘Just Smile’ – is engraved forever on the stone at the field hockey field.
“It’s quite a privilege to be associated with Kelsey,” said Joel. “She was one of the best things I ever had in my life.”