By Ray Hamill — Eric Imrie loved being an athletic trainer, and the local sports community loved having him as part of their family.
Particularly his athletes, and to most of them he was more than just an athletic trainer.
“To the people that really knew him, he was one of the most genuine dudes,” College of the Redwoods Head Athletic Trainer Nate Kees said. “We always had a lot of fun, and I think the people that knew him knew what a genuine soul that cat was.”
Imrie sadly passed away in November and will be remembered by family and friends in a celebration of life in Sacramento on Saturday.
He spent several years here on the North Coast, first as a student at Humboldt State and later as an athletic trainer at Arcata High, at CR and at HSU, as well as working four summers for the Humboldt Crabs.
“Eric was a really easy going person, and he really enjoyed being around the guys and being at the ball park,” Crabs assistant coach Brad Morgan remembered. “I think that camaraderie is something he loved being around.”
In 2008 Imrie won a national championship as athletic trainer with the HSU women’s softball team, and, as Kees recalls with a smile, he never let his fellow athletic trainers forget it.
“He shoved that ring in my face so many times,” he said. “He got the opportunity that not a lot of us get, to wear that ring. And when you’re an athletic trainer and you win a national championship, that’s a badge of honor. It was an absolute show stopper for him.”
Imrie was also a member of the United States Marine Corps, as was HSU head coach Frank Cheek, and the two became close friends on that national championship run.
“Not a lot of people know how close he was to coach Cheek,” Kees said.
Likewise with the players on that team.
“I was enamored with the relationship he had with his players,” said Kees, who remembers with a chuckle that Imrie almost didn’t get his masters because of his commitment to the team that season. “He was hell bent on making sure that team got what it needed. He was definitely willing to go above and beyond for any of his athletes.”
And that endeared him to his athletes.
“He was a very nice person and easy to approach,” Morgan said. “And that made it a really good fit.”
Imrie was also the head athletic trainer at Lassen College for the past 10 years, earning the respect of his peers with his work there.