Sam Mackinnon, lovingly known as “Dregsy”, after a difficult battle with a brain tumor, has passed far too soon at the age of 23.
This is one of those tough ones. Tough to hear, then tough to understand, and most certainly tough to write about. The untimely passing of our friends and teammates isn’t a sadness unique to our own sport, rather an unfortunate part of the human condition often leaving us with the unanswered question “why?”
Sam was a member of the storied Brighton Bombers Lacrosse Club in Adelaide, South Australia. Three and a half years prior to his passing, a tumor was discovered on Sam’s brain. The majority of the tumor was removed surgically, followed up by an intensive 6-week course of radiotherapy. Three cancerous tumors returned in August of 2016 with an unexpected force that grew despite four heavy rounds of chemotherapy. The day it was discovered that the chemo had failed was the day Sam was admitted to Daw House Hospice. Despite a valiant fight for his life, Sam passed two and a half weeks later; December 22nd, 2016.
The paragraph just above this one is a very dreary and dismal paragraph, but I would urge the reader not to confuse the unfortunate final chapter of Sam’s fight with the wonderful life which he led with unmatched enthusiasm and electricity.
The Legend of Sam Mackinnon
Sam began playing lacrosse at the U11 level for Brighton, and progressed right on up through the ages playing on the U15, U17 and U19 South Australian State Teams. The highlight of Sam’s career came in 2012 when he earned a roster spot on the Australian U19 squad that traveled to Turku, Finland.
He had made his mark in lacrosse, playing for his country’s U19 national team at a young age. Sam’s career was cut short by a cancerous tumor. It was not before he made his mark playing on not only South Australia’s biggest stage for the top club in Brighton, but on the world stage with one of the greater lacrosse playing nations.
After being sidelined from the field due to his medical woes, Sam never relented in helping out the club. Serving as the team trainer, tending the bar, firing up the barbecue on gamedays, and selling raffle tickets to raise funds for the club were all in Sam’s wheelhouse. A dedicated member of the club isn’t always the guy scoring the goals. Sam put in all his energy to help better the club and the lives of it’s young players. Coaching U11s alongside longtime best friend Matt Fuss for years, Sam won the Junior Club Man of the Year numerous times.
Much More Than That
In addition to lacrosse, Sam was an active member with the SA Sharpies sailing community. He found his place behind the bar. According to his sailing mates, he would be at the bar waiting for all the boys to come in from the water, quickly roasting anyone and everyone in the room.
It was the highlight of the day for a lot of the guys, and Sam’s friendship served as a binding glue that ensured a club atmosphere versus just a bunch of guys who liked boats.
The world needs more people like Sam Mackinnon. Now more than ever.
That’s a teammate. That’s a friend. Someone who’s company and kinship turns strangers with similar interest into family. Every team needs good men like Sam. The world needs more people like Sam Mackinnon. Now more than ever. His presence will be missed as greatly as the appreciation by the Brighton Bombers and all those who knew for the opportunity to have him in their lives.
To Our Brothers
South Australian Lacrosse is a tight family of ten or so clubs. Sam Mackinnon is the most recent passing, but recently two other players were taken far too young as well.
Justin “Justy” Hemphill passed away shortly after leading his Burnside Bears to the State League Grand Finals. Stefan Woodward passed shortly after Justin that summer. He was 19 years old. Stefan was a member of the Woodville Warriors Lacrosse Club. I was fortunate enough to have known him during my tenure playing for the Warriors in the ’15 season.
This one is for them.