Sentinel Grove Cottage | Annual football game honors Tim Eckstine

Tim Eckstin [aka Carl] loved playing soccer in the rain. The old Grove Lion Cottage has flourished over time. Tim was a champion, on and off the field. When the Lions football team won the state in 2008, he was the one who helped the teamdecisive goal of the championship.

His mother Denise says he was one of his most clumsy children.Friends who knew him speak of him having a big and good heart.His father Paul says he was the toughest guy I’ve ever known.

His friends called him Carl, after a running joke on the ’90s sitcom, “Family Matters.” His brothers teased him with the nickname when he was a kid, but Tim found it humorous and the name stuck. Many of his friends haveI don’t even know his name was Tim.

He and his brother Tom had played football together since they were children. They often played opposite each other.

They had coaches year after year saying how fun they were to watch. We play on one side and we play on the other side. They are complete opposites. Tom was the scorer and was left footed. Carl was playing right footed and wanted to get the ball in the middle so whoever was there could score,Dennise continued.

It was strategy with him, he loved it,Paul added.

He often looked for a way to make the assist first. He rarely looked to score. It was not uncommon for Tim to take less playing time in order to allow others to take the spotlight.

I say he was quite humble, because if I had his skills, I would have been quite loud,said Paul. He was a team player, there is no doubt.

When he started playing in high school, he received the award for most assists,” his mother said.. II’ll never forget they were playing a JV game somewhere down south. He was a striker – when he scored we thought it was brilliant. Then he scored again. Then we saw him walk up to the coach and suddenly he’s back in a different position. He wanted to move so other kids could come up and score. For him, it was the greatest thing ever.

During the 2008 State Championship, Tim played in the game with a torn ACL and torn meniscus.

It wasI’m not going to playDennise said. He had a broken tibia. He was like no II’m playing.He was a junior that year.

Tim didn’tno chance to play in college. His grandmother died just before he graduated from Cottage Grove High School and he remained in the area to help care for his grandfather. He would go on to play in many local adult and indoor soccer leagues.

Soon, Tim had been brought with Oregon Department of Forestry [ODF] in Springfield.

Football was his first love, then he got into ODF and he was fighting fires, then he met his girlfriend, Nichole. He was so excited for all of them. He ended up getting married just over two months before he died,Dennisi said.

ThisIt’s been just over five years since Tim died of Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

This past Sunday, Sept. 25it wastraining, as Tim preferred. It was hot, about 85 degrees with a slightly smoky sky. Still, friends and family gathered to play football at a local pitch in his honor. Every year around Sept. 23 – Tim wore number 23 as his jersey number – the people most affected by his life come together to remember him and play the game he loved so much.

Tim didn’tt stop living when he was diagnosed with cancer.

He was such an inspiration to everyone when he was sick. He was just like,Yeseh, II’m fine,” Denise said. He never complained.

While battling cancer, a friend of Tims invited him to a football match he was organizing for his birthday. He insisted there was no need for Tim to play. He just asked for TimHer presence. The next day, Denise picked him up to take him to an appointment at OHSU [Oregon Health & Science University] and he told her that he had played in the game.

I said what? You have a porthole in your chest. He said,It was so much fun, mom. I coulddo not sit or play.I was like, great. He had an appointment with his doctor, she asks him Have you done anything since our last date?and he goes Yes, my friend celebrated his birthday and I played football last night.The doctor was like, Alright Alright.‘”

Even when he was battling cancer, Tim looked for the positive. He continued to work for ODF even through it all. They recently put the Eckstine name on one of Tim’s favorite fire trucks in his honor.

He was also a man of faith.

One of the things that impressed a lot of people was that he got a tattoo on his chest of the words Fear God;no doctor would cut into that,says Dennis. No one would ever dare to touch it. Doctors would ask what that means. He would answer, Well, fear God, but don’tdo not fear God.’”

She recalled, I’ve only seen him collapse twice in the whole thing. One day we were driving home from one of his treatments and he said:You know mom, thatGood thing I got this instead of my brothers. Jérémie is raising his two children, Matt is in Chili and is expecting her first baby, and that would beyou’re right. Tom has been through so much. I can do it.

SundayThe soccer game in his memory brought together adults who knew Tim well and children who had never met him. The family organizes the football game and an annual camping trip to help keep his memory alive.

The community here was so great with us, we couldn’t thank them enough. We had so many people that were there and we still do. There are many people who still remember, you cant thank everyone enough for all they have done,concluded Denise.