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Remembering Ricky Matter


Sorry if this is the wrong forum....RIP Ricky.

Forever in a moment

Forever in a moment
Sweet memories connect OSU’s Matter with brother killed in crash
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Jim Massie


Ricky Matter was the starting quarterback at Bluffton High School as a freshman. He hoped to play at Ohio State someday.

Ricky Matter was 15 and a budding high-school football star when he died in a car crash on Valentine’s Day a year ago.

The scene played out so many times that Caity Matter can shut her eyes and hear the sound of the back door closing behind her and feel the warmth of a grin spreading over her brother’s face.

‘‘I can see him sitting in the kitchen with a big old smile on his face," she said. ‘‘No matter what kind of day he was having or what kind of day I was having, everything stopped as soon as I walked in the door. We had a relationship where we were so close. We were best friends."

The memory produced a smile below eyes that glistened. Tears of joy and tears of sorrow are drawn from the same well. Life and death are two sides of the same coin. The harshest lesson eventually teaches everyone that forever lasts only an instant.

On Valentine’s Day a year ago, Caity Matter lost her 15-year-old brother, Ricky, to a car crash near the family’s northwestern Ohio home in Bluffton. Ricky Matter, a budding high-school football star, died while his sister was riding in a bus with the Ohio State women’s basketball team to East Lansing, Mich.

Sherri Matter called her daughter at the team hotel to deliver the horrific news. What words do you use? Until they’re spoken, does anyone know that a stone dropped into such a void will never strike bottom?

‘‘The thing she said to me, I was like, ‘Gone where?’ " Caity said. ‘‘You don’t want to believe it. It was very hard to understand — and to not to be there ... "

A year later, the Matters still are coping one second and one step at a time.

‘‘They were more than brother and sister," said Rick Matter, Caity and Ricky’s father.

When her husband’s voice trailed off, Sherri Matter picked up the narrative.

‘‘He grew up imitating her," she said. ‘‘He was 15 years old. People would ask him . . . well, most boys won’t say that their sister is their hero. He did."

A special bond

To understand the depth of the relationship, consider a 6-year-old Caity standing on tiptoes in the hospital to catch a first view of the person who had just ended her role as only child.

‘‘I was looking through this little window at him in there, and he was screaming and kicking," she said. ‘‘They were trying to take the ink things off his foot. He kicked over the ink jar and it went all over. That’s my first memory."

The mess made her smile. Any possibility of sibling rivalry melted.

‘‘From the time he was really tiny, he was her shadow," Sherri said. ‘‘Wherever she was, he was."

Inside, outside, day and night, the two became inseparable despite the age difference.

‘‘They knew more about sports than anyone," Rick said. ‘‘They knew every player on every team. It didn’t matter what was on TV. I remember his little feet being at the end of the couch and him sitting as close to her as he could get."

But watching always took second place to playing. Ricky arrived in the Matter household about the same time his sister fell in love with basketball.

‘‘I always had a ball in my hand," said Caity, who’s now 22. ‘‘Second grade is when I started playing organized ball. When he got old enough, we were together all of the time. He would tag along to the gym, or we’d be in the back yard every day.

‘‘There’s a point when you’re a teenager that a lot of people wouldn’t want a brother or sister tagging along. But I would take him anywhere with me. My friends all got along with him. He always loved older women, anyway."

Coaches, of course, always loved Caity. She quickly proved talented enough to make traveling AAU teams. The family, including Ricky, always went along.

‘‘We were lucky because they were so supportive of each other," Sherri said. ‘‘He never complained. He was the ball boy for all of her teams. He grinned and had fun just being around. The other teams even treated him like their little brother or little doll baby."

A similar talent

As the years passed and Caity moved from Bluffton High School star to Ohio State player, the Matters realized that Ricky had athletic talent to equal their daughter.

‘‘With the difference in age, we didn’t know that we would have two kids that could play ball," Rick said. ‘‘We had all those great years with Caity. We knew his time was coming. It worked out perfectly. The best thing was that we knew that she was going to be able to watch him."

There was a slight difference in the shape and bounce of the ball. Ricky preferred football. And he was good. As a freshman, he became the starting quarterback at Bluffton in 2003. Whatever Caity accomplished, he planned to match.

‘‘He wanted to be the quarterback at Ohio State,’‘ Sherri said. ‘‘He was going to work for that."

As he had done for her, Caity watched every football game from the stands that season and saw him throw five touchdown passes against one opponent.

‘‘Nothing he did ever surprised me," she said. ‘‘Some of the throws he made, people his age shouldn’t have been able to make them."

Playing varsity — he also made the basketball team — prevented Ricky from seeing some of Caity’s games, but that didn’t keep him out of her everyday life.

‘‘I talked to him every night," Caity said. ‘‘Whether I was here or in Chicago or Croatia, I talked to him."

The telephone routine, Sherri said, usually went like this, ‘‘Hi Mom. Hi Dad. Let me talk to Ricky."

The relationship also was evolving in other ways. The backyard football passes now stung Caity’s hands. On the basketball court, she had never let Ricky win.

‘‘I really don’t like to lose," she said. ‘‘But it was getting to the point where it was really competitive. I had to play very hard the last couple of years, because he was getting stronger than me."

The day that was coming never had the chance to arrive.

Ricky was a passenger in a car with two friends, one of whom ran a stop sign. They didn’t see the other vehicle. Ricky was pronounced dead at the scene. Mother called daughter to say that he was gone.

Gone where?

A stark reality

Caity decided to play against Michigan State the next day because that is what she believed her brother would have wanted. She scored 23 points in a 72-53 victory. Her parents and dozens of family members and friends from the Bluffton area were in the stands. The game remains a blur.

‘‘I remember the first shot," she said.

She made a three-point field goal, and then another a few seconds later that she doesn’t recall.

‘‘I remember coming out of the warm-ups and talking to coach (Jim) Foster," Caity said. ‘‘I remember hugging every single member of my family."

Her family and teammates closed ranks around her. Foster said afterward that it was like a pianist channeling grief through music.

‘‘Something had to take over," she said. ‘‘I don’t know what it was. But it was the best thing for me to do that before having to go home and face reality."

Reality is understanding that one second and one step lead to the next. The Matters now are watching the development of the Ricky Matter Strength and Conditioning Center at Bluffton High School.

Sherri and Rick are doing their best to see that Caity enjoys her senior season.

‘‘We know that she’s struggling with this," Sherri said. ‘‘We want her to fulfill her dreams. Ricky would want that for her."

Caity is certain of those wishes.

‘‘I know what his goals were," she said. ‘‘He’ll never get the opportunities that I have. I put that on myself to play for him. But I also know that I’m playing for myself. Moving forward is hard. You do what you need to do to get through."

It helps that she can shut her eyes, walk through the door and immediately hear his voice and see the warm, happy-to-see-you-Sis grin.

‘‘I vividly remember when he was a couple of months old," Caity said. ‘‘I was carrying him around the house and I almost dropped him. I caught him. I picked him up, and I made a promise to him in my kid way, ‘OK, I’m always going to try to protect you.’ "

She did that for the forever of Ricky’s life. For the time that follows, she will never let him go.

[email protected]


out of chaos comes playoffs
RIP for sure

i believe ricky threw for over 4000 yards as a freshman in high school. he would have likely challenged the all time national passing yardage mark that ben mauk and chris leak traded back and forth.

big loss to the buckeye football squad likely and an immeasurable loss to the matter family.
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Although I do not know the Matter family directly, untill just recently we had a very good friend in common. Unfortunately that common bond is gone since our friend passed away very suddenly from cancer. (he only lasted 15 days after the diagnosis).

The Bluffton School District is building a new athletic facility and have named it after Ricky. If anyone is interested in donating the info for the school is below:

Bluffton High School
106 W. College Ave.
Bluffton, Ohio, 45817
Phone: (419) 358-7941
Fax: (419) 358-6586

My company does work for the School District including the existing athletic building and they are in dire need of a new facility.

One of the memmorial contribution options for my friend was to the building fund. My old high school atheltic booter club as well as many other area schools have donated funds to the building campaign.
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